Guest poem sent in by Sashidhar Dandamudi
(Poem #1290) My Father's Love Letters
On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax After coming home from the mill, & ask me to write a letter to my mother Who sent postcards of desert flowers Taller than men. He would beg, Promising to never beat her Again. Somehow I was happy She had gone, & sometimes wanted To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou Williams' "Polka Dots & Moonbeams" Never made the swelling go down. His carpenter's apron always bulged With old nails, a claw hammer Looped at his side & extension cords Coiled around his feet. Words rolled from under the pressure Of my ballpoint: Love, Baby, Honey, Please. We sat in the quiet brutality Of voltage meters & pipe threaders, Lost between sentences . . . The gleam of a five-pound wedge On the concrete floor Pulled a sunset Through the doorway of his toolshed. I wondered if she laughed & held them over a gas burner. My father could only sign His name, but he'd look at blueprints & say how many bricks Formed each wall. This man, Who stole roses & hyacinth For his yard, would stand there With eyes closed & fists balled, Laboring over a simple word, almost Redeemed by what he tried to say.
Notes:  The recent poem submitted by Jasmina (Poem #1288: Amanda Townsend), made me remember this poem which I had read a few weeks ago in Komunyaaka's Pulitzer Prize winning collection "Neon Vernacular". It deals with the same pieces of conflict and agreement between men and women.  The whole poem seems to be structured in a very beautiful way around brutality (beat her, claw hammer, pressure of my ballpoint pen, five pound wedge, concrete floor) and tenderness (desert flowers, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, sunset, roses & hyacinth) to reflect how the narrator is similarly caught between the same kind of feeling towards his father. Can't do anything better than that!  I was also suprised that Komunyakaa was missing from the Minstrels pantheon! I think he is a great poet, who has written some powerful poetry, the notable being of his experiences as a black journalist serving in Vietnam War. So I belive we might consider adding this missing link. joy! Sashi [Bio] [broken link] http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/komunyakaa/bio.html [Other Poems] http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/komunyakaa/