Dear Dad

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 21:09 -- KFleet

If you appeared daily in the majority of my life

why does it feel as if I’ve lived ten without you?

Drowning in the tears of each of the last three years 

How absurd it seems to be writing you a letter

I should be able to do one better

hug you tight and let down my guard against the world

but we’ve both discovered that a world without walls

will be our final resting place


I’ve compiled a list of questions

an impossible array 

of imaginative scenarios 

where the question asked most of me

wasn’t if I was okay


Where were you 

each time my name was called 

an award stamped with gold

handed to me, the dabbler in shame


Where were you

when anything at all would’ve done to stop the pain

And how come I didn’t realize

you weren’t really alive

my last words exchanged with you, a soup of lies


Did you lock yourself in a dark room when you cried

I only ask now that I too

stand in these very shoes

cast out of lead

entrenched in the sticky mud of relentless defeat

dripping with “I told you so”s and “don’t worry”s

because how could anyone possibly understand


But somehow you did —


you took lazy Sunday mornings by their rays of sleepy light

and placed them on the griddle

splintering wintery weather’s despair straight down its middle


it didn’t matter much if my dreams grew beyond my reach

because you lifted me onto your six foot shoulders

picking each one like a ripe peach


my years numbered five

when you took me for a drive

the redolent aroma of steaming breakfast sandwiches 

and tall tales of treacherous trials —

complete with pterodactyls roaming the landscape 

of my wondering and wandering thoughts

filled our car with youthful freedom

put on pause by an elementary bell,

never again to be restarted


but you never forgot how to dream

from future husbands and two story mansions

to adventures under the sea

nothing seemed out of our reach


I was your biggest fan

never knowing why I had to root for you

not realizing that a cruel and unforgiving East Wind

eventually snatches all those we love —

no talk of who or what existed up above

there was no higher power

than you and me — we and us

we held our own and explored

the catastrophes of candy corn pancakes

we danced on summer’s dying sun

as your famous baby back ribs were lifted from the grill

sampling spears of pineapple

in the same shade of star I could no longer be for you


Not for a single second did I imagine

that I’d be searching for you 

in every coach, teacher, friend

I didn’t want to wish my reality pretend

yet here I stand, at what may seem like the end


No one could have guessed

you’d be long gone before your mother

who died of a broken heart

we had no way of knowing

you wouldn’t be here 

when your little brother lost his valiant battle

against the monster in his throat

I wish you could’ve been here

when my heart broke

Without a doubt you would have

reached for your shotgun 

polished and ready to aim

I just didn’t know it would be at your own temple,

leaving a life unfinished 

a stately proclamation interrupted in its most crucial line


So I’ve compiled a list of questions

an impossible array

of imaginative scenarios

where hearts weren’t hopelessly shattered

time stood stiller than a statue of stone

where my eyes don’t well with tears

when I see a little girl tug on a man’s pant leg 

glancing upwards with doe eyes

mouthing  “Daddy, I love you”

three words I can never again imagine saying


But nothing can outshine

the sparkle in that little girls eyes

the same sparkle that kept my dreams alive




This poem is about: 
My family


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