My Father Came to Collins Avenue


Done, you escaped the car
and joined your brothers,
false teeth, glasses on the pavement,
and the wallet of your hand
flipped open.

All our secrets fluttered out
to meet the neighbors,
our folded hearts,
the island house and rotten slate,
Kiev and Odessa, a confused race
scored on cards with a wet pencil stub,
sold out,
the bent cards of our hope fallen around you.

And when I came for your stranger's clothes,
the dressers, notebooks, cigar boxes were
dressers, notebooks, cigar boxes . . .
in my hand your cup revealed a cup.
Father I lost you long ago.


Your chest of pain for the family
opened and you said my name

in the house of papered windows
where Europe fell in a little radio,
where faces dropped from mirrors,
a towel was swaying on a door,
the bathroom ran in razors,

the yard was damp with lilacs
and lawn chairs tossed and yawned
empty. I couldn't find you.

I mourned you as a face,
for a stone I set a stone,
for a grave I dug a gravel heart,
but I couldn't pull our names apart,
I couldn't pull the finger from the bone.


I sold my Plymouth and my blood.
Bitter was the grass
in the universal park.
The lunchrooms of the world
flew to me like bats,
and all I did was walk
and run my head against the dark:

but you, I remembered you
and had no memory,
not in New York,
not in Denver,
not in suburbs
hissed by sprinklers,

not remembered,
your portrait the house you wore,
your overcoat with seams of salt,

father of angers that made you cough,
father of drugged cities,
father of sick birds
in my blood,
father in water spiders and blue nails,
in the generations of sun,

in the rain,
in the wind through my eyes
that never looked at you,
no, never remembered.