Three Poems

Rich Marcello

January 6th 1970

A winter night
Shortly after Christmas
We are still warmed
by the presents
the food
A family connected in holiday
our hopes and dreams
for the New Year
starting to rise above history

There is a problem
You are unhealthy
two hundred and thirty pounds
on a five foot eleven frame
You decide it is time to return
to high school form
Basketball is your vehicle
you go to the gym
play for a couple of hours
play very hard

I am waiting for you
when you come home
The Knicks and Lakers are on TV
We watch in your room
I am happy we are spending time together
so are you

The score is 88-87
The knicks are winning
you go to the bathroom
I tell you to hurry
the game is almost over

A minute later I hear
a loud bang a thump
unlike anything I've heard before

I run to the bathroom
You are on the ground
you look blue
Mom tells me to call next door
Tells me to ask the neighbor to call 911
Quickly there are people in the house
that I don't know
machines that I don't understand

Just as quickly they are gone
My mother goes with them
I stay at home to watch my sister
who is still asleep
She is seven
I think about waking her
but don't want her to experience
this kind of fear

Years pass in minutes
I pace I cry
I pray to Saint Jude
please save my father
I promise I will never do anything
wrong again

The car pulls up
My mother gets out
The neighbor is still with her
He puts his arm around her in the driveway
I scream
I run out into the snow past them
they try to stop me
but I need to run

I hope the wind
the speed
will free the pain
but soon I start to freeze

I return to the house
My mother and I
in the foyer

My father is dead at thirty-seven
Nothing will ever be the same

Change of Season

Simple things remind me of you now
your name
scrawled on a rock
Mrs. Robinson playing on the radio
Abbott and Costello

Gray things too
a clenched fist ready to strike
only to open in greeting
concealed rage that you felt
as you traded absenteeism for
material stuff

Every time I laugh I hear your voice
when I work I work for your
Even when I made love for the first time
I wondered what sex was like for you

Now the tears come more often
When they do
I want you to hold me
This is true even though I am older than you now
This is true even as I hold
my own son
as he struggles with a dissappointment
This is true and it transcends normal time
It's father time

I am so fucking angry at you
I want to scream and yell and hit you
Then I want you to reach out and stop me
by telling me it will be ok in words and touch
I want you to cry for all that you have missed
I am a graduate of Notre Dame, a husband, a lover, a father,
a musician, a vice president of a billion dollar business,
a poet, a good friend

This is the year I passed you by
I could have stopped learning
I could have retired
I could have run away
Hell, I could have died

But I didn't

I made these choices
in unchartered territory
For the first time
without the pull of unspoken guidance

I 've been given a gift of life
a gift of love
a gift of fatherhood
a gift of learning
I can't give all of these away because of how much
I love you

It's time for a change of season
My heart won't miss the winter
as it finally learns to miss you


Death comes softly
after so many years
as invincible

How hard it is to see you this way
between tears and Rose
It floods me with memories
of quarters
the old radio in the basement
the crab trees
the shore
long talks over football

I was the first grandson
endeared by order
by substitution
The son that never came
a circle in a square
hair always a little too long
values a little too left
I always yielded back then
I thought out of respect
but really
it was out of love

You taught me first
that love and difference
are a gift to be

Rich Marcello

You can send email to Rich at [email protected]
mail welcome

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