Thirteen Ways of Looking at My Father

(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)


Among many souls passed along,   

The only one moving 

Was the soul of my father.   


I was of three hearts,   

Like a child   

torn between three beloved stories.   


My father buzzed through his days.   

It was a small part of his manipulation.   


My father and my mother

(were) one.   

My father and the other[s]

Are one.   


I do not know which to prefer,   

The memories of my childhood

Or the mystery of innuendoes. 

The truth uncovered

Or just after.   


Words filled the infinite days

With stories of unknown verity.   

The shadow of the truth   

Danced around edges carved by elaborate tales.   

The full text   

an intricate machination

impossible to comprehend.   


My father of my childhood,   

Why do you imagine golden tales?   

Do you not see how the colors

infiltrate the world around you

blending—ultimately–into darkness?   


I know your heart of justice

And the clear, inescapable beats of righteousness;   

But I know, too,   

That the lies are involved   

In what I know.   


When my father left the first time  

five days of vigil

one of many circles.   


At the sight of his return   

Flying in a golden light,   

Even the doubts of a small child

Would vanish, simply.   


He found renewed life

In a fragile story.   

Once, fear of truth pierced him,   

But then clear honesty 

Boldly embracing the lie as truth


Time is moving.   

My father’s life must be flying.   


It was ending as it began.   

It was his reality   

And it was going to remain his reality.   

My father wrote   

the world he imagined he lived.


11 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at My Father

  1. Just WOW! “V: the truth uncovered/or just after,” and “But I know, too,/that the lies are involved/in what I know.” So many thoughts and feelings in me reading this and “since feeling is first,” I feel like a lucky reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the complexity of your relationship with your father that you convey with this poem. I particularly love VII: “Why do you imagine golden tales?/Do you not see how the colors/infiltrate the world around you” And that last line is so powerful!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really loved reading this! Each progressive number felt like a new truth revealed. There’s so much beauty here amid a difficult story. Your poem captures the complexity of being human (for the speaker and the father). Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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