Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Must Be About The Work Of My Fathers


All the girls cried that you looked like Alan Ladd, they asked me, 
“Do you know Alan Ladd, honey? Your Daddy looks just like him.” 
You were quick to point out that Alan Ladd was short and you were tall. 
You said, “They had to put his co-stars in a ditch so he could kiss them.”

Remember, Daddy how you ran from bed to catch the arsonist who was throwing fire in our doorway? You gave him such a beating he never came back.

You rolled your cigarette pack under your T-shirt sleeve. Lucky Strikes.


No one gets you, not really. How I suffer when I hear them argue.
I loved you when you woke in Paris
while Hadley slept and you washed the Bumby bottles, fed him
and afterwards, went down for the papers
then you wrote 

You taught me everything I know.
You raised me, word by word.
I listened carefully to your Zen description
of the elephant and the lion, the fish and the sea, the boxer and the bullfight.
How the old women went up the hill in the early morning
to drink the bravery and came down grey faced.
When Pilar washed her feet in the stream, I knew I’d come home.
You named your boat Pilar. Of course you did.

You were truly One.

Because of you,
I keep my baby picture on my windowsill
to remind me of my promise.


You touched God.
A word like a flower in a valley of ash: robin’s egg blue.
You were the finest champagne.
I loved that you died with your head slamming to the typewriter,
as Hemingway said, “Without ceremony.”
I want to die like that. I want to live like that.

Stephen Crane

You helped me understand my red badge of courage.
Because of you I was not afraid of the pain,
no, nor the yellow pus or the dark blood.
Because of you, I knew I could sleep
under the green bough in the dappled grass,
a chapel more holy than church.
You gave me the prayer book: Maggie, Girl of the Streets.
The first modern novel.


Had to be published in Italy where the printer could not speak English.
He could see only the purity of letters.
You taught me where and why everything was.
I am not afraid to get wet, to stand in the rain.
I am not afraid of words or animals.
I am only afraid when a rich man is in the last of Sherwood Forest.

Robin Hood

Nobility cannot be taken away.
Maid Marian was a better archer than you, and a better horseman.
I remember how you listened to her ideas – and then – followed her
though you were a leader!
You laughed! Stole from the rich, gave to the poor.
You died, finally
Betrayed by your cousin, a nun.


What did you teach the boy?

Tarzan teach Boy where to find water when thirsty, where to find food when hungry.  
Tarzan teach Boy to be strong like lion and happy like bird.

You find everything you need in the jungle do you?

Wise man need little.

Have you ever thought what will become of Boy if he grows up in the jungle?

Boy grow up to be brother of sun and friend of rain.  Hurt nobody.  Want nothing people have.  Grow old like cedar tree.  Boy will be good man, happy man.

No one can want more than that.

Virginia Woolf

Words are waves and waves are words. I let the words take me like waves.
I do not try to understand them.
The shark fin races to find you. The lighthouse is dark.
You stood to work because Vanessa stood to paint.
You walked every day.
I read your letter to Clive on Christmas afternoons, when all is quiet.
“It is past nine o’clock and people still sing carols beneath my window.”


Earthly Paradise.
How you reminded me of my Nona,
her blue velvet slippers with toes cut out to relieve the pain,
shuffling ahead of me, taking longer in old age than my quick baby steps,
going down the stairs, three flights to the garden
with a heavy bucket of water and back again.
Forbidden pleasures: The chocolate pan sizzling before dawn.
How Sido laughed when the infant crushed the rose in his little palm.
The cool flesh of Cheri, Leah’s pearls about his throat.
All these nurtured me through my girlhood. I close my eyes to write.


You were not afraid to follow the Great God of Where the Line Goes

The shapes of Nature repeat themselves
line may be lip or bone
round may be breast or stone
Flowers so precious they became Mountains

You were a black sculpture tracing lines of yourself on the sand
which only the ancient may understand

Patti Smith

You do not think it’s bravery. I do. Because I need to be quiet.
But, I adore your horses and your ties.
Kiss me with your words and your beats, Oh Prince!
I do not know if you are father or mother, but I love you.


You are too beautiful to look at directly.
I can only follow you.

I think of you living.

I know your Father and Mother gave us yang and yin.
And the Holy Spirit, which is life and love.
You wanted us to love each other and to marry.
To have children and to live well.

From the time I first heard of you
I believed someone who loved so much
must have fallen in love with a woman.

I am a Magdalena. I carry a rose.


You taught me how to read life
and how to cook brown rice.

When I first met you, your house was art.
I knew I had come to the right place.

We gave each other life beyond our own – a family.
You take care of us in a storm and build an ark
out of a Mini-Cooper.

We love you!

Thank you.

Happy Father’s Day!

UPDATE: Found out exactly what Dad is doing in this photo! Seems the little one stepped in dog poo! What a guy!

©Patricia Goodwin, 2013

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.