Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tanks for the Memories

Fatherhood is a blessed business, even though the man himself universally is hardly holy.

I post this weekend to honor my father, born May 1930, who died at 52 of brain cancer. I’m older than my father lived to be, and I’m proud of who I am today in goodly part because of who my father was and what he bequeathed me. He was an interesting man, and I still don’t approve of his absence from my life. This photograph of him was taken during the Korean War, when he was training with the National Guard. I love you, Dad.

Requiem for My Father Following New Evidence of God

My religious education was not your fault
but I begged God for your life with every
book, chapter, verse, creed, catechismal
question and answer I knew. I bargained

for your life with mine, with my future
happiness, I swore to God He could keep
that future good husband and I would do
without wedded bliss or children if only

He would let you live. I swore off drugs,
men, intellect, pleasure of all kinds if He
would hear my prayer and save you. On
my knees I begged, through choking tears

with loud beseechments, calling on His
Holy Name, His mercy, His holy book,
His past behavior with humankind, every
nickel and dime method I could conjure

to touch His hallowed heart. I knew I was
pathetic, not nearly eloquent enough to earn
a miracle. I confessed I was by nature sinful
and unclean, deserving of His temporal and

eternal punishment, mea culpa, mea culpa,
I don’t deserve it, I confided, but please
let my father live. I did not pray in faith but
in desperation because you were in fact

my god. I was 28 years old and did not grasp
the fatal truth of His claim to be a jealous
God who suffers no other gods before Him.
My very prayers stung His jealous ears.

Visit the Poetry Jam site at to visit other poets pondering fathers.


Helen said...

I lost my father when I was sixteen, he was forty-six .... your poem is overwhelming, Chris. He would be proud - or should I say he is proud.

Brian Miller said...

heavy poem friko...i am sorry you were without your MIL passed a couple years ago and know my wife would have struck a similar deal to keep her mom...

Bagman and Butler said...

This is a very powerful and wonderful honoring of your father. Thank you.

Steve E said...

Chris.................WOW! I heard last night that all life is 'lessons' and we learn by doing the right thing as well as by living the wrong way.

However it happened--YOU, GIRL, have LEARNED! And you can teach it to others. "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." (Not before--grin)


Lolamouse said...

Wow. This one really hit hard. I thought I knew where it was going but then you took it some place else entirely. Honest, brutal, and beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing.

Steve E said...

Oh, Chris maybe I wrote this before...but I absolutely L O V E those green mountain fields. Reminds of the song (Click on) GREENFIELDS

Marion said...

Wow! this poem is gripping, Chris. It almost hurt to read.

I think I've told you before how handsome I thought your father was. I know how birthdays of the departed, no matter how long ago, still strike pain in the heart. Take care of yourself on this day..

Gerry Snape said...

After major family revelations over the last 12 months....I still love my dad who died so many years ago and now I can love him for what he wasn't as well as what he was..

G-Man said...

I LOved this Chris...
I never knew my father!

Magpie said...

Such an insight. Gone, but not forgotten. Lost, but still guiding.

RNSANE said...

"Thou shalt not worship other Gods before me" - maybe He really was jealous. A most beautiful tribute, Chris.

izzy said...

Great piece, thanks! My Dad died from a similar situation, It seemed so fast-
although it started earlier than we knew.
I remember being chilled and terrorized.
at 26, I 'ran' and alcohol didn't help...

Zed said...

Your words deeply felt. My mother died of the same cruelty. I did the same. It did not help either.I honored her in my blog called 'You miss them when they are gone'( You write beautifully. x

Titus said...

Wonderful conflation of religious language and that strange relationship between father and daughter in heightened times. Some astonishing lines and images; this of particular brilliance for me:

nickel and dime method I could conjure

to touch His hallowed heart.

jabblog said...

This strikes a chord with so many. Beautifully written and very honest.

The Bug said...

Oh wow - this is so powerful. It really makes me think about my own prayers before my mother's death...

Dave King said...

Powerful and original - in every sense. I found it utterly convincing.

twinklysparkles said...

Thanks, Chris. I already wrote about the heart-shaped rocks in my answer to you on my blog, but I see you do live near the ocean, so I am sure you can find many heart-shaped rocks, too.

Great poem and rare insofar as its structure. I am enjoying combing through your blog. Thanks.


Lou said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments and encouraging words.
It is great to read your poetry-this is beautiful. I'm also older than my dad was when he died of alcoholism. Oddly, that obsession was not passed on to me, I don't care for it at all.

What you write about praying is right on. We usually come to our knees out of fear and desperation, not because we believe it will actually work.

Dave King said...

Lovely, lovely poem.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Beautiful tribute!

Berowne said...

Very moving; beautiful.

TechnoBabe said...

Whew, heavy duty my friend. Very moving.

Syd said...

I am sorry that the bargaining didn't work. I miss my father, even though I feared him at times.

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