Gary by Jason W. McGlone
My father is an elderly
cat, sixteen, slowing down, & pissing
on the walls
mainly out of spite, we think.
When I was in eighth grade he sat
on the tailgate of his truck with
a cooler of Miller Lites & sang
The Lumberjack Song until it was
dark & he was too drunk to make
it inside, so he slept next
to the back steps, wet with dew
in the morning, embarrassed & cold.
My father is a lamp
on my nightstand, patinated
brass, shade broken, lit all
He once threw a broom at
me when I, at twelve, flipped him the bird;
it flew like a spear on a gorgeous
arc, brush end whizzing past my
nose. Nobody is the hero
of this story.
My father is a photograph
held to my refrigerator by a magnet;
he & his sister, in their teens--
song-perfect smiles, as if the photographer
had told them a dirty joke as the camera snapped.
When he was six, he carried a Pepsi bottle
for protection against what dangers may
have come as they wove through the streets
& alleys of Dayton. I’ll protect you, kid
My father is a dead man in an elevator,
heart burst somewhere between the fifth
floor & the lobby; found collapsed after
the doors opened & closed a few times,
too late for anything to do any good.
Weeks before, we sat on a picnic table & he
defended the years-long affair he'd conducted,
for which I can't explain my forgiveness, but
there it stands, equal parts asshole & desperate
for touch, regardless of who might be the partner.
Against all advice and my own better judgement, I miss him.
Jason W. McGlone's work has appeared in Potluck Magazine, The Metaworker, Sledgehammer Lit and is forthcoming in Imperial Death Cult & The Orchards Poetry Journal. He makes music under the name Mourning Oars, holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, and lives in Cincinnati with his family. Twitter: @maoglone