i’ll be around – a poem

i’ll be around – a poem

i burn today as a father in the wilderness
crashing into emotions deeper than wounded knees
i cannot get the affirmations i desire
from a 17 year old son who wanders in a
wilderness of wildfires and ambition of his own
anger he can’t identify
that catches light at the sound of my voice

we were all angry young men once
i try to remind myself
we have all got issues with our fathers
and now, for one of my own, i am he
we are estranged
but not for lack of trying
no
more for lack of honesty
more for lack of hope
more for lack
of something untouchable

i do the sad dad dance
and brush off the rebuffs like a high school football coach
“walk it off son, walk it off”
knowing that all is all right
all is as it should be
all is
broken
not between us
but between all men, fathers, sons, boys
all of us scared and yet wanting
the touch of a hand
assurance of an authority figure

of course, my dad is long gone
but i still argue with his ghost sometimes
still negotiate for permission
to do things differently
to be a better man
to love without shame

and
to have a son
blistering to be so different
indifferent
is an angry quill in my chest

the sadness is not for him
the ache is not for my father
the pain is for myself
and parts of me that feel unloved
unworthy
and parts that remain unspoken
even as i seek
with words, gestures, touches, love letters
to myself

i self soothe with the idea
that we’re all teenagers once

but…
i am different

and somehow we are the same
my father and i did not see eye to eye
until the day he died
my son resembles my dad more than me
and his pride
scorns me at every turn, offer, request
“can we do this later,” he asks
meaning
not at all

yes, i say
i’ll be around

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