Dad Told Me:
Never do anything half-assed.
I was listening to my big, bald, plain-spoken father when he admonished me for taking a shortcut on a grade-school project. He was not wearing his Detroit police uniform, and he dispensed his advice between drags of a cigarette and swigs of beer in the living room. Our black-and-white TV was blaring and some of my brothers were talking and laughing, but I heard Dad’s words.
My mother probably told him to talk to me, but I still listened to my father. There was something about his authoritative voice. His laugh. His willingness to help neighbors and kin who came to him with their problems. This father of eight boys would listen to you as if you were the only one in the room.
We lost Dad thirty years ago, but his memory and his advice are still with me. He must have dispensed the same advice to my brothers, because all of us developed a strong work ethic. While I have made an ass of myself at times, I have always tried to live up his words:
Never do anything half-assed.
Dearly Belated (An Ode)
I'm wishing that you
were here to talk to,
so that we could share
one another's hearts
and though love was 'stranged,
Closure came when I
sought you out. We hugged,
we cried and assured
each other, resolved
to rebuild. Only
the city took you.
I never mourned you
and I still miss you,
but I am like you.
a lesson in dancing
My father taught me how to dance.
Not ballet, not tap, not jazz or hip-hop—my father taught me how to dance around people, how to tiptoe gracefully through conversations to avoid being an inconvenience, to avoid being disliked. My father taught me that I must be careful with my words, that I must be meticulous in what I say and when I say it. My father taught me how to dance in uncomfortable shoes while others stroll comfortably, my father taught me to be anxious.
My father didn't mean to teach me how to dance, but the instruction happened naturally. I learned through experience, I learned through interaction. If he was angry, I shouldn't talk, I should sit in the discomfort of his frustration. If he was tired, I shouldn't talk, I should sit and avoid being noticed. If he was frustrated, I shouldn't talk, I should anticipate his needs and act accordingly. If he was happy, I could talk, I could say words so long as they were packaged appropriately. I had to dance my way through my childhood, and I became good at it, I became so good at it. There's a verbal filter that permanently examines the words I intend to say, there's a sense of restraint that guides my limbs and guides my actions. I thank my father for teaching me how to dance.
My father also gave me intentional lessons: my father taught me how to fish and how to ride a bike; my father taught me how to pitch a tent and start a campfire; my father taught me how to use a saw and how to ski down steep terrain; my father taught me how to drive over alpine passes and how to whittle.
My father taught me how to survive in the wilderness while simultaneously teaching me how to survive in everyday interactions. It's funny—I don't need to dance in nature, and when I'm alone with the trees and flowers I smile and sit down, I take off the pointe shoes and rest for a moment. But when I go back—and I always go back—I put those pointe shoes back on, I dance through life, I bend and sway to the wishes and needs of others.
My father taught me how to dance, which is funny, since he's no ballerina, since he's not very graceful himself.
My father isn't a bad person, and he's improved through the years, but he taught me how to dance and I do not know how to stop.
My feet are sore and my body aches. I wish I could rest, but I know I cannot stop until the performance has finished.
The nights are the hardest part
sentimental and full of
lost card games, two dollars
a man if you can call it that
it, him, a stranger you can hardly recognize
a pair of eyes you could never really see into
I thought I knew how to love
I'll try harder than he did
I try harder than he does
So what was the point of all this?
Humans are flawed
Life isn't easy
It wasn't someone you had to let in
He was there and now
The days can go by in the blink of an eye
But the four hours
before you sleep
when all the work is done
you can't help but weep
it erupts when there is no sun
and no matter what it is
the nights are the hardest part
an empty card for father’s day
My father taught me how to always be present for family--
by never being there.
He taught me the importance of respecting your wife,
by belittling, battling, and battering his own.
He was a master at finances,
stealing my birthday money so he could buy cocaine.
His teachings of tolerance were exceptional--
screaming "gay!" just because I was shy around girls.
Our home was filled with his presence.
The way he created the family atmosphere
showed me how to create a home the kids wouldn't regret
returning to each day after school.
Yes, my father even taught me how to love
by never loving any of us.
Appreciation On Father’s Day
My father taught me the importance of family, faith, being kind and charming to whoever you meet, and hard work. Besides speaking of these things, he also showed me through example. He constantly revealed his work ethic through his job, and even helped with my Boy Scout troop, using his own vacation time to join me for Summer camp. He continues to not only be there for me and my sister, but he also fully enjoys his latest assignment as a grandfather to our children. There is so much more I can write about how my dad has enriched my life, but I will wrap this up by saying that thanks to him, Father's Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I always loved my dad's pride and enthusiasm for this holiday that celebrates the joy of being a father, and I embraced the same appreciation once I become a father myself. Just like my dad does, I love celebrating this holiday with a Father's Day donut, reminding the other fathers out there to keep making a difference, and looking back and forward on the always exciting journey of parenthood.
once told me
fishing isn’t about the chase
it’s about the wait
confusing skill with fate
i looked at the surface
that it depended
upon the spot
it doesn’t matter
how patient one was
it mattered where
one’s hook dropped
my father looked on
and released these words
with great haste
your problem is
you’re always in a race
but the more you rush
isn’t going to make that fish
take the bait
the reason why i catch more fish
trying to relate this situation
to our own sakes
leave my line in the lake
pulling yours out
how ironic it was
that during our many
he was usually
- Shitolian 2019
check out more lessons like these in my books: Shitolian, Book Smart, An Open Wound, Writer's Block: A Book of Shitty Poems
during my childhood, you taught me about tools. this lead to me being my own handy man.
You taught me about cars and engines. i miss how i set on your lap while you drove, pretending to control along with you. i miss falling asleep on the couch and waking up safely tucked into my bed.
during my teenage years we never saw eye-to-eye and always seemed to bicker.
we never spoke anymore and car drives alone with you were awkward. it was a blessing if two words were spoken. however, during my break-ups you somehow found ways to guide me and cheer me up. well, even gave me lesson... which i never followed thank to you for the stubborn genes you carried over to me.
most people said that i was a replica of you and i never wanted to believe it. simply because at times i felt replaced by my younger siblings.
the most important thing you have taught me, is what a man is.
for many years i thought i would run away from you, yet i found the man exactly like you who later became my fiancé. and through this, i got to understand you better. to see things that i blankly stared at.
you taught me to be independent, strong, proud, stubborn, a risk taker and what it meant to love and be loved.
you taught me me responsibility, stability and resilience.
you taught me that regardless of your age, you never to old to chase your dream.
you taught me how to hustle for my wants and needs.
you taught me how to love and hate at the same time but still have the good out way the bad.
A Father’s Love
Rain was falling outside as Dad loaded up the truck with trash on a Sunday morning. After he finished he came inside and asked if I wanted to go to the dump with him. I said yes, grabbed my purple raincoat, and hopped in Dad's beat-up Chevrolet he had owned since his early 20's. I sat and watched the rain drip down the passenger side window as we drove through our town, listening to the local country station on the radio. When we got to the dump, Dad got out and emptied the truck of all the trash bags. After, we stopped at a gas station. I went in with him and he told me to pick out candy for myself and my brother who chose to stay home, then he grabbed a case of beer. Once we had gotten everything, we went to the counter to pay. Dad wanted to pay in cash but didn't have enough money to buy everything. I looked up at him, ready to take the candy and put it back. But Dad, without thinking, told the clerk to "keep the beer". We left the gas station and on the way home all I could feel was the love my dad had for me.
At seven years old, this event showed me the seemingly small ways in which people love. My dad loves me enough to want to run errands with me, even if I can't help or if there is little to no conversation. He loves me enough to want to spend his extra money on candy for my family rather than on himself. My dad taught me that love isn't wrapped up in giant moments, or the number of times someone says, "I love you". Love is in small gestures hidden in plain sight.