nineteen years, no candles

i wouldn’t
recognize his voice
it’s been so long
since i heard him
but i remember
his scent
when he would get home
from a long day
of old spice
marlboro reds
(filters removed)
and hops and barley

he would start
the day off with
a cold one poured
into a coffee cup
to take the edge off
the night before
chain smoking
his way across
the countryside
where every bar owner
knew his name
and greeted him with
a smile and a beer

he taught me how
to fix damn near anything
his clever mind
ever clouded was adept
at solving problems
but the biggest lesson
was we fix things
to overcome the parts
of ourselves irrevocably
shattered by life
and in those repairs
we find a moment of solace
as we are torn apart
by the things
we have to choke down

there is a sorrowful
pureness of beauty in
the sins of the father
passed down to the son
inherited scars left unseen
knowing your heroes
are hopelessly flawed
yet seeing the strength
that keeps them moving
ever forward through
the cesspool of life
finding the light lost
in the shadows they cast
and knowing love means
finding perfection in
the broken pieces left behind

nearing two decades
since the last time
we lied to one another
with tears in our eyes
about summer plans
we knew he would never see
and i remember that hug
i knew was the last
before i finally broke down
head pressed against
the airplane window
shedding my great expanse
of bitter sadness
to wash over the winding
mississippi river below

i think about you
all of the time
but as your birthday nears
my shattered cuts
with every forced breath
i miss you
so goddamned much
i love you, dad
your absence is
barbed wire wrapped
tightly around my heart
so i celebrate your birth
as i mourn your loss
even as i have forgotten
the sound of your voice

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