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 Tribute to Love and Loss at Salamander Cove

"Inconsolable Grief" by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi

The September issue of Salamander Cove focuses on love and loss. I am honored to have my poem, “To Friends Not Knowing What to Say” — which first appeared in Iota 85 — take its place alongside spare and stunning tributes by Chris Agee, Anna Ross, Dave Jarecki, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Jim Murdoch, Jamie Dedes, and Charles Bernstein. I found the juxtaposition of these pieces deeply moving, and applaud the editor for focusing her selection “not on the fact of death but on the depth of the sense of loss of certain special beings, or almost-beings, who are no longer with us.”

Longer poems are interspersed with short pieces from Chris Agee’s “Heartscapes” series, featured in his remarkable collection Next to Nothing. The effect is like that of Haibun, a form perfected by Bashō that juxtaposes a prose piece with a haiku, enhancing the reader’s attention to both the longer and shorter piece through the interleaving of the two forms. Here, too, I found myself pausing to find my breath as I made my way through this series of poems.