Throw things at the wall
and see what sticks!
My Old Man knew the artist’s mantra,
so he tossed my mother’s hotcakes
at the cupboard door, called them
“dough-gods,” “sweat-pads,” and “pot holders.”
He did it for a laugh, our nervous laughs.
Of course he was drunk and knew
it pissed her off—two birds, one toss.
That inebriated act was his most successful
art form, and priceless because it lasts
forever, passed on and on in us,
the stories of failure, anger, suck-it-up
and don’t-give-a-fuck. Dumb hope and loss
continually washing inside, the tides of
pain and fear and love. Enter the myths
of salvation and redemption, explanations
for getting out of bed and coming to grips
with the fact that you can’t escape yourself
just like everyone else floating the blue sea
alone—in the same boat. My Old Man
taught me how to be a bastard, a self-aware,
hard bastard, harder on himself than others.
And Good-Christ he was unmercifully hard
on others who only cared about feathering
their own beds—that curse is in my head.
His mantra I’ve passed along to my sons
directly and unwittingly, “Take inventory
on yourself every day, and remember . . .
you can shit me, but you can’t shit yourself.”