Father

I

He was the older son.
His face was poxed with large suppurating pores.
His brother’s face was smooth.
During the Depression when no one could find work,
he worked every day, giving all his money to his mother.
At eighteen he drove a Cadillac
and carried a gun for Mike DiGregorio.
He attributed his lack of success
with girls to his skin.

II

He hated England.
He wanted Hitler to invade and destroy her.
He hated banks and bankers and all who made money from money.
He said: cancer comes from cans
and heart attacks from not doing honest labor.
On August nights he sat on the cement porch he had built
(decorated with cement flowerpots he had made)
throwing milk bottles at niggers who threatened his home
by walking by it.
He attributed his failure as a small contractor
to his sinuses which discharged a steady stream
of clear mucus through his nostrils.
When his mother died she gave the house to his brother.
He very much wanted to kill somebody.

III

He told his sons
they were the best,
that the world was crooked,
that merit was never rewarded,
that success is always bought with someone’s blood.
When the NAACP picketed the union hall,
he hit a nigger with a plank.
Gino Furillo, his friend, the union chief, failed to defend him.
He was tried and convicted and fined.
That night he searched the basement
for the gun he had carried for Mike DiGregorio.
When he used it, it misfired.

IV

The doctors said he had a mystery disease in his left lung.
After they operated, he sat on a very large couch
which his wife protected with thick clear plastic.
When he saw Hitler on the television he screamed:
THAT SONOFABITCH SHOWED THEM!
He truly wondered why everyone on TV had money,
wet bars in their homes, two cars, and clear complexions.
When Kennedy said:
“Ask not what your country can do for you
but what you can do for your country,”
he threw a beer bottle at the set.
From this couch, he watched Johnson’s Great Society
tear down the homes of his neighbors.
When they tore down the house he had built
(with his nose dripping and his face poxed)
he was already on Thorazine 4 x a day.

V

The stone walls he built in the city parks still stand.
All the others have fallen.