Father-Son Conversation (Poem Online)

A dear friend in America recently and unexpectedly lost his father. A new friend here in England is tending to his father’s health in what may be the twilight of his life. They have both been on my mind today, along with so many for whom Father’s Day is a poignant occasion. I am now nearly six thousand miles away from my own father, and from the birth- and death-place of my son.

Salamander Cove has put together a fine collection of poems related to fatherhood, and I am pleased to have my poem “Father-Son Conversation” appear in this way for the first time online. The poem opens my debut collection Human Shade, part of the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series. It appears last in this online collection. It is the only poem from a father to a child in this series (the others being addressed to fathers by children), and the editor specifically wanted to end the collection this way. I am honored for my work to have been part of this complex, subtle, and fitting tribute to one of the most important jobs a man can do.

A Father’s Farewell

My dad and me with our new train set on Christmas day

On Friday, I got up before dawn, as I often do. This time, however, it was not to write, but to listen. I walked two blocks to the clubhouse of a retirement home, where the local chapter of Toastmasters was in session. My father has asked very little of me in the six years we have lived across town from each other in the sleepy hamlet of Ojai, California. Today he wanted me to come hear him give a speech.

I came away both moved and proud, reflecting on our thirty-two years together. At my request, my father has posted the text of the speech, as well as an audio recording of him reading it, on his own website. In the speech, he mentions my losing a son, his almost losing me, and how our experience of the fragility of life has shaped us, and our relationship.

Needless to say, I will miss him when we leave.