It Takes 54 Years to Write this Poem
By: Charlie Brice | Posted on: December 2018
My father crushes out his cigarette
and heads into the bedroom where
my mother already sleeps. I watch
the last of Johnny Carson, turn off
the tv, and curl up on the couch
in my skivvies—July 8, 1964. It’s a sin
but Annie’s breasts are like pearls
and Joanie’s legs are enough
to make me mewl. I’m so full
of horneymoans I don’t have
to touch myself to come.
At 4 AM I hear my father’s snores.
They’re strange—only inhales,
no exhales. My mother screams, Ward!
He’s purple when I straddle his body
and bring my fist down hard on his chest
like they do on Ben Casey. I don’t feel
the cool July air in Cheyenne
while I run across the street to get
Dr. Simons. I think my dad’s dead, I say
when he comes to the door. I hear
more snores while Dr. Simons teaches
my mother how to breathe into his mouth
and pound on his chest. The ambulance guys
wheel my father through our living room.
I focus on the big toe of his right foot.
That toe is dead.
My cousin John Pavich is first to arrive
for the wake—his mustache meticulously
trimmed, his suit perfectly pressed,
his pipe lit and fragrant, the mask
of a man who attended daily mass
for forty years. He invites me for a walk.
Jesus, he says, takes from us those we love
in order to punish us for our sins.