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Less Than Two Standard Deviations | Poems of Fatherhood

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Catching Up With You

How quickly they catch up,
those things.
The things of which you only completed half,
the half that faces the street.
One day there are too many,
and they rise up shambling
into the back of your mind
where oh shit you say
gotta get that done.

If you send the kids to school with pizza filled lunchboxes,
If you finish their homework using the internet,
If you didn’t pay attention at back to school night,
does that mean you love them any less?

If you still forgot to send the email about the thing we talked about,
If you didn’t make the next pot when yours was the last cup,
If you saved your timecard ten minutes after it was due,
does that mean that you are doing a bad job?

Imagine I stand in a field playing catch at dusk with my son,
while the table is set,
and the roast beast is resting, ready to carve
and the many many things
that have to get done
I ignore

because when it comes down to it
he needs it more than
and eventually he will ask himself the same question
and I hope the answer is no.

Not What Was Promised

My problem with this is
this is not what was promised.
I think it would be easier if you just never dangled the carrot,
when you knew it was not even yours to dangle.

I like it when people say what they mean
and do what they promise,
and dispense with the empty boasts
that they think will seal the deal.

It starts with your parents who tell you that you can do anything,
when clearly,
King of Norway is not a possibility.

Then your teachers tell you that with hard work and perseverence,
and a quote from Thomas Edison,
you too can invent the airplane or travel to the moon.
When actually that has already been done.
Those moments are just yellowing newspapers with ads for corsets and Hi-Fis.

Where are the global think tanks promised in the movies where you work on fascinating ways
to save the world and invent cold fusion?
Where is this potential that we were supposed to have reached?

When you find yourself in your family sedan,
driving home from tiny little league victories,
or volunteering at the hallowe’en carnival,
does the fact that you grilled 400 burgers in three hours
make up for your inability to have been elected President?
I guess the school building fund thinks so
because they gave you a certificate and a pretty nice bottle of wine.

Yes. It is important to be average, just a few points from the mean,
less than two standard deviations.
But didn’t they tell you that you were destined for greatness,
outdistancing the pack,
the front of the curve,
that little part at the brim where obviously you belonged.

And when you look down at your child and they ask you the same question:
what will you tell them?
You will look in their shiny little eyes, and you will tell them that
they can be absolutely anything they want,
an astronaut,
a policeman,
a pickle farmer,
or the King of Norway.

And you will believe it,
or you will try,
even harder than you tried to believe it for yourself.

Cancer Is An Asshole

Cancer is an asshole
that comes to your house
and fucks with your stuff
doesn’t put the dvds back in the boxes
pees on the seat
turns the channel when you were watching something
leaves like a half teaspoon of milk in the container and
puts it right back in the fridge.

It leaves the window open at night
It takes your stuff out into the yard and leaves it there
It punches you in the shoulder and says “hertz, donit!”
It sits on your chest and spits on your forehead
It invented the phrase “why are you hitting yourself?” as it slaps you with your own hands
It spreads rumors about you at school
It doesn’t put the new toilet paper roll in
It shits in your mailslot
It pops your balloon
It knocks your lunch on the floor
and it says “see this? It’s mine now!”

And you say “fucking cancer!”
and it looks over its shoulder at you with a dismissive sniff
and turns away like you didn’t say a thing.

Cancer is an asshole
that kills your dad
or mine, at least.

 

 

 

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6 Comments on Less Than Two Standard Deviations | Poems of Fatherhood

  1. Thank you Tony for these poems. The last one of course made me cry.

  2. It was the second one that made me cry! But all three were wonderful.

  3. Michael Dunham // June 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm // Reply

    Thank you. And I knew your Dad.

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