Posts Tagged ‘Fathers’ Day’

David L. Allen 1946


The first time I overcame
My fear of my father
Was when I was 16
And he had just threatened
To take his belt off
To me again.

He was coming down
The stairs from the john
And he was making a motion
To take off that thick, ass-ripping
Garrison belt and I found something
Inside I never knew was there and yelled,
“Stop it! Just stop it!”
And he surprised me
By stopping and looked
At me with a question
In his eyes.

His oldest son had never talked back
Like that before. I’d always
Just meekly accepted the punishment.
I pushed the hate way down, thinking
I must have been bad to deserve this.
Not this time. I stood my ground.
“You know, I don’t respect you any more!”
I shouted.

It hung him up.
I don’t think he ever
Considered his kids
Should respect him,
Just obey.
This was a new concept.
“I don’t respect you!”
I yelled. “And I’m not
Going to listen to you any more!”

About 25 years later
My kid brother Rick and I
Coaxed him out of his bed tomb
And had him sit at the dining room table.
We told him we wanted to talk to him,
We wanted to hear the story of his life —
What was it like growing up on Long Island
During the Great Depression?
How was it to be a high school sports hero?
How did he feel when he had to give up college
Because his National Guard unit had been called up?
We wanted to hear about the war
And the struggle with too many kids,
Numerous jobs, and too much booze.
We wanted to get it all down
Before it was too late,
So we could share it with our children.

We wanted to listen
And he didn’t have anything
To say.

By David Allen

My Father Played the Mandolin


My father plays the mandolin
when life begins to close him in;
playing old folk tunes and country airs,
music helps to soothe his cares
and ease his life.

And he plays,
when the need for drink
clouds his brain
and he can’t think.

He plays,
when the bills are high
and cash is low
when my mother cries.

He plays,
into the night
but it never seems
to come out right.

He plays the mandolin
when life begins to close him in.

He plays.

BY David Allen

This is an early Fathers’s Day Poem. My dad was a WWII veteran who never fully recovered from combat. He was incredibly talented — a football hero at Manhasset High School, a cartoonist, a comedian, a musician — but he was also an alcoholic most of his life. After he gained sobriety when he was 43 years old, he became hooked on pills to treat his post traumatic stress disorder (which they didn’t call it back in the mid 60s). He died in 1992. (A poem about that will follow next month.) We were never really close. I was short, non-athletic, bookish and disobedient and he was disappointed with me. I was the oldest of seven children and ran away a lot.