Many of our fathers
went to war believing
to do so would keep us,
their children, home in peace. 
Their dream was not a new one 
nor was the lie we made it. 
Very young, in yards
and fields we grappled, 
clawed, punched, learned
to curse. It was something
in our blood. Many of us
are now fathers.

Stubble grass,
early Winter,
sunset silvers
bloody sky.
I sit in a field
with my son
who is almost five
months old.
He still possesses
Heaven’s glow 
in eyes, skin, thoughtless
hand
reaching for the ears 
of the dog beside us.
I wish for him
a world that won’t exist,
not quite the world
my father dreamed
but close.
All I can do 
is try to teach him
strength;
soul, body,
gentle strength.
How can I do any more?
Even today
I who marched
nearly eight years ago 
to end the Asian war, 
even today
I felt the urge
to strangle
a man with whom
I argued
politics.
How can I teach him at all?
That, that urge
to force one’s self
is what makes trouble.
I have made my share of
trouble in this world.

Well, what’s regret
but a waste?
And what are we
but beasts?
Ten thousand biblical 
prophets a million
prune faced or handsome
professors, a million
more soldiers, a cavalcade
of demons can do
no more damage to
man or woman
than regret with its
stifling claws.
It holds you to the past,
and the past is dead.
It’s the present that puts us,
so to speak, against the wall.

Stubble grass,
early Winter, 
darkness, darkness 
circles man and boy.
So many angles,
so many chances,
so much beyond us
has brought us
to this point.
And where does this point
take us? Eventually
all will be quiet
and restful. Christ
and our dreams
promise this much.

The dog has gone ahead.
She will meet us on the way.
I pick the boy up.
He rides my shoulders
clutching my hair
as the two of us head home
through stubble grass, through woods 
alive with animal and spirit sounds. 
Though it’s dark, so much light 
shines ahead, around, behind us, 
too much light
to be wasted.
Everything’s forgiven.