Our Father of Sorrows


I am going to keep this opening short and sweet. On the advice of my father, one of my most avid readers, I am from now on going to stop including these little preambles as it was pointed out they may predispose readers to one particular interpretation of my work when they really should be free entirely from any such influence. So, without further ado, hoping to please the soul of wit with my brevity, here is my latest piece. Enjoy all, cheers.

His face walked out
Of a photo from The Depression
Pinched, drawn, patina of dust bowl grit
Crumpled fist of desperation
Sunken wells of hollow eyes
With luminous fishes swimming
Mobius figurines in the depths.

Salvation Army lunch counter suit
Hangs like resignation
Across workman’s shoulders
Willie Loman low class portrait
Of tired, sad, defeated diginity
Standing in queue for the bus
Like it was a bread line.

No one actually sees him
They’re not supposed to
This poor, shabby phantom man
It’s not necessary for his purpose
Even if you were to glimpse him
He would shuffle uncomfortably
Fumble with the brim of his hat
Pretend to follow ragged pinwheeling of pigeons
Until your wandered off in defeat
Looking for something brighter.

If your glance was able to hold
Silently able to keep your eyes
On this collection of coat hangers and rosary beads
You might snatch the subtle shoulder touch
He presses upon the woman in front of him
Wrung out like a gray dishrag
Her face suddenly unclenching a bit
As he tucks away
Her fear gasping make the rent children hungry heartache
Work bone weary boss greedy hand fumbling
Into his trouser pockets
Caught in folds of well worn linen handkerchief.

That is what he does
This old, old, old beyond capacity for the word “old”
To bear the weight of man.
A gatherer of pain, taking his share
Wages of salt and bitter and loss
So that we have even a hope of standing up
Under the lead crush of this wretched world,
His is the heavy thumb on the scales
Keeping the tilt just this side of doom.

A shuffling at the edges
Anonymous occupier of barstools
Steals that last one too far shot of whiskey
As he speaks those mysterious drunken stranger words
That no one remembers save to acknowledge
That he took away the longing
For a bullet’s kiss goodbye
For one more day.

See him kneeling
On knees worn through by pew rails
In front of the sad eye girl
Taking her face in hands
Of tobacco and astringent aftershave sting
Looking into her
The fish sparkle rise open “O” mouthed
Swallowing all the awkward, the ugly, the hateful, the fear
The wanting, pulling all the morsels down
Into still waters
Pulling out from his waistcoat
The smile she had dropped
At the feet of some stupid boy
Who had discarded it so easily
Mistaking it for a bubblegum wrapper.

He does his best
To soothe, to comfort
But is fingers lately are gathering rust along the joints
Under the fingernails
His cuffs are a bit more frayed
Cheeks sunken under steel wire five day stubble
Cracked and looking like old pavements
Slowly drowning under the oily molasses stickiness
A poverty of riches he is unequipped to handle
The seams of him
Dripping the aborted children of rape,
Dangling mothers from nooses made by their sons
The sins of all the fathers left in the wake
Of his poor soles
All ashes and tears.

Me, I fear for the day
When those shoulders collapse
Like a bridge down into cold, cold water
Putting himself away
In the trunk under his bed
The inevitable resting place
Of pocket watches and broken Swiss Army knives and sad tattered medals
St. Christopher’s and bent prayer cards
All of a soldier’s things
Leaving us to our perpetual misery
Unable to meet our greedy demand
That we so readily supply
In an almost perverse eagerness
Heaping upon ourselves cinder block
Pilgrim’s bent back burdens
One day leaving us all on our pitiful own
To support the cathedrals we built
In worship of our grief.

I am not a religious man
Not by a long stretch
My faith couldn’t bring up
Even two coins for the ferryman
Yet still, because I know how much
We all need him
I light a candle at night
One bright point in a big hunger nothing
Grumble roar howling at bay just beyond
That feeble warm circle
I pray
Our Father of Sorrows
Please put on your coat
For one more day
Amen.

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One Response to “Our Father of Sorrows”

  1. still in recovery from all that digging Says:

    every moment we manifest from all possible combinations
    some thing
    at each shoulder silent assistance is offered
    use a shovel
    use a ladder
    we should resist frequent distraction from that shiny metal
    climb up some time and check the view
    it gets even better with each rung

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