Fathers
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.