My dad would open up when he drank his bourbon—
not enough to tell me everything, for he was always
the diplomat when discussing my mother, but he
would tell me enough that I could piece their history together.
I really didn’t care about his drinking—other than books,
it was one of a few pleasures he had left—but
when he belched, and he looked a bit uncomfortable,
it was then that I knew he was telling me the truth.
He died in panic and confusion. He should have known
that Death was coming, for Death had stood beside him for years,
tapping its foot, waiting for him to finish his drink,
waiting for him to close his book, to finish his thought,
to be buried in a graveyard among soybeans, corn, and kinfolk.
For me it was an Illinois nowhere—and only once did I visit.
It was then that I discovered the unimportance of graves,
and he wouldn’t give a damn that I never came again.
So when I sip my scotch, I can see him sitting,
sipping his whiskey, sorting through his past, slipping
into a rare moment of sentimentality, as he looks at me—
I can hear Death beside him, waiting—tapping his foot—
tapping his foot—tapping his foot—to my heartbeat.
lives and works in the San Franciso Bay Area. His poems and short stories have appeared in journals such as Crack the Spine, Forge, FRiGG, Full Moon, The New Guard, The North Coast Literary Review, Oak Square, OxMag, Pennsylvania English, Poetalk Magazine, Rio Grande Review, SLAB, and Westview.
The two cats that allow Wulf to live with them are also his severest critics. Writing poetry detracts from play time, petting time, and from feeding them treats—and they regularly show their contempt for his muse by walking nimble-footed across his keyboard.