Even working half-time,
at 76 he stays busy.
He brags about a slew of jobs
through the VA.
“Once you get one…”
he laughs, shakes his head.
Memorials for different wars
he missed through age or luck.
Contractors provide the marble slabs
with their graven lists.
He builds the brick frame,
a hollow, windowless house
He tallies the sites,
in tick infested parks,
in don’t-blink-or-miss-‘em towns.
He recognizes some of the names.
Others draw the same
with which I imagine
he reads my poems.
My father leans in to tell me a secret.
Before he lowers and seals
the cap of each memorial,
he tosses in a scrap of 2 x 4,
with his name and the date
penciled on one side.
He grins at me absorbing
this strange autograph,
this Baptist deacon’s brag.
I cannot tell if he wants
them to be found and read
Written for the Atlanta reading: "Don't Stop Kissing." The images come from the biographies published in the Orlando Sentinel.
--for those killed at Pulse in Orlando
A basketball, a top hat, an envelope of money to send home.
Perfume samples, makeup samples, a housewarming gift.
A pharmacy textbook. A 2-month old.
Business cards. Donor cards. A mambo mix.
A wallet card that says, “I am Catholic.
In case of an emergency, call a priest.”
Photographs of families of lovers of friends.
For baby sister, the ability to walk in heels.
Selfie with a wax figure of Selena Gomez.
#foreveryoung. Low on his boyfriend’s neck,
the red dots of a hickey.
So many eyebrow pencils.
Button-up shirts, all black.
Too many jars of peanut butter.
Keys to the gym. Keys to the new house.
New collars for the Chihuahuas (three).
More dancing in heaven.
Too much quiet. A fist bump.
A bible and a book of poems for a personal renaissance.
Postcards from Niagara Falls.
(“Wish you were here!”)
Invitations to a wedding. Invitation to a christening.
A return ticket to NY on the hotel dresser.
A drawing. A bowtie. Ferrari keychain.
Halloween decorations. Graduation cap and gown.
Brochures for “Drag Stars at Sea.”
Photos from the Bear Den (marked personal).
Name unreleased, name unreleased, name unreleased.
Leftover tomato and cheese dip still in the frig.
Multiple boxes of hair dye, various colors.
An open space, a portal half-a-hundred souls wide.
A rending, a reverse mass birth in the sky.
They left us a charge in this open space,
the size of a dance floor, or a parking lot
where we can kiss, then turn up our eyes
to where we’d see stars, if it weren’t for the neon.