More Than One Poem In My Life by Don Kingfisher Campbell

I don’t wanna look like my father.
I don’t wanna turn in to my father.
I don’t want to have a double chin
and Grecian Formula hair.
On the other hand,
he was loved. A Pisces
liked by his co-workers.
A ruddy complexion
that never wavered from male.
From his 10am Old Spice shadow,
right down to his white
Fruit Of The Looms.
I didn’t want to be like my father.
I didn’t want to be
a detective for the sheriffs.
I didn’t have to worry.
He was 6′ – 2″ and I knew
I’d never reach him.
His wedding band, size 12.
Mine, 6 ½.
I’ve got girl’s hands!
Clean, uncalloused
(except the middle finger)
feminine hands.
“An artist’s hands.”
No yellowed nails
from cigar smoking
or asbestos pipe-fitting
in the Navy.
I missed required registration
by two months.
Now I’m 40,
no pouch over my penis.
Fighting off fat,
I avoid his beloved steaks
washed down with
saccharine iced tea.
It’s easy, financially.
I chose to be a poet.
Or did I?
Was I destined
because of my
small hands,
my father’s looming discipline?
I became a day-to-day reader
–the times I was sent to my room.
My father thanked his secretaries
for correcting his letters.
He left his living room chair
some nights
to earn his other “diploma” in life:
the second car for my mother.
The employee-discount toys
came from those midnights
as a Mattel watchman.
Before he died at 58 of cancer,
he showed me the one poem
he says he ever wrote.
His life, of course, for me
was another.

Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los
Angeles, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, organizer of
the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon
Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For publication credits,
please go to:


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