Our Fathers who art not of Heaven
But who reside on earth--Flesh, bones, and death--
Sometimes they do not know love.
They know women. They know sex and baseball.
To them a "thing" between men
Must be hidden in smoky bars,
Shielded by amber bottles of beer,
Backslapping brotherhood, and dark shades to hide soft eyes.
Touches must be shoulder-level.
Comparisons are allowed over restroom urinals.
But then they quickly say, "My woman likes me this way.
Hand squeezing is allowed for dying buddies--Hugs for brothers, sometimes.
Eddy, you must resist kissing your Mother--
This is what our Fathers mean
When they say, "Act like a man."
Yes you can cry on a battlefield
As you place your comrade's severed hand
In a body bag.
But you can't keep shedding tears the day after
And the day after
When you learn you are no longer the lighted vision
Your Father had when he lifted you and saw his symbol
Between your bowed legs, and named you his name-
When he knows you'd prefer to love the sun
Than battle the wind,
When he sees your Mother in your walk,
When he knows you will not be another
Dark shaded MacArthur who walks on water
And spits out the bones of men,
When he knows all of these things
And gives you his raised eyebrows--
Dance on like you dance,
Like a man stepping on burning tongues.
Published in the James White Review
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