LUCK OF THE IRISH

fern's pictureI’ll open one more Guinness

tonight, get in touch

with my old man’s ghost,

 

won’t go to a bottle of 86

or wrestle with Nine Mile Bill,

push an asshole-friend through glass.

 

No. No celebrations

for my mother, 89,

who just got the news

 

of cancer in her spine

& everywhere else.

So I turn to my dad

 

who got it from his,

the alcoholic response

to all of life’s curves,

 

high & inside or right

down the pike. Curses

& joys were always toasted

 

with a touch, a taste of the spirits

(meaning: don’t waste a drop,

drink it all till it’s gone—

 

& you’re pissed to the gills).

This is what I’ll carry

closest to my heart on my way

 

to the grave: the memories of

my mother & me talking

at the kitchen table

 

about my dad dead-

drunk in the bed

& the hateful shit he said

 

to her & me. She made sure

I knew that wasn’t my father,

the man we loved in there—

 

it was the boozy devil

inside all sad men.

She showed me it’s women

 

(not Atlas) who hold up the world

through innate loyalty

& terrible tenderness—

 

that fight-to-the-death

instinct of a she-wolf.

Tonight I salute my mom

 

with the bitter weakness

of my dad, tell her I love her

& thank her again

 

for teaching me how

to handle the trouble of living—

& how to talk with women.

 

for my mother, Fern

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