My Father (from “Septuagenarian Stew” 1994)
was a truly amazing man
he pretended to be
even though we lived on beans and mush and weenies
when we sat down to eat, he said,
“not everybody can eat like this.”
and because he wanted to be rich or because he actually
thought he was rich
he always voted Republican
and he voted for Hoover against Roosevelt
and he lost
and then he voted for Alf Landon against Roosevelt
and he lost again
saying, “I don’t know what this world is coming to,
now we’ve got that god damned Red in there again
and the Russians will be in our backyard next!”
I think it was my father who made me decide to
become a bum.
I decided that if a man like that wants to be rich
then I want to be poor.
and I became a bum.
I lived on nickles and dimes and in cheap rooms and
on park benches.
I thought maybe the bums knew something.
but I found out that most of the bums wanted to be
they had just failed at that.
so caught between my father and the bums
I had no place to go
and I went there fast and slow.
never voted Republican
like an oddity of the earth
like a hundred thousand oddities
like millions of other oddities,