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In My Father’s Now-and-Then Kitchen

(x = space)

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In My Father’s Now-and-Then Kitchen

(and backyard)

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My father could cook many things

Well, six things

The rest were disasters

Like shipwrecks on rocks

On waiting shores

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He could make—combine,

Stir, apply, bake—apple pie

He taught me how to have

Cheddar cheese with that

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He could make blackberry cobbler

Blackberries, maybe, because of

Growing up

In Olympia

Where there were

Berry trees and bushes in abundance

Real crust (back to the cobbler)

Made from many ingredients

The right amount of sweet and salt

To savor

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He could make bean soup

Ham and bone kept from another meal

Beans soaked for days

It seems

He might have made the cornbread

That came with it

Maybe my mom made that

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Have I got to six?

Well, he could grill adept

If maybe nothing challenging

The usual suburban fare

Meat and vegetables

I’m a plebe

I like hamburgers

I was satisfied

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My mother cooked everything else

Too bad you can’t taste

Her corned beef with cabbage

Carrots and potatoes

With the cornbread

(Southern)

That she made

x

I can’t taste it anymore

For many years

Except to remember

I’ve found nothing close to hers

In waking time,

Since

Sigh

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What else my father cooked

Was awful

(shapeless shapes

on plates)

He was the only one

To eat those things

He made

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C L Couch

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Photo by Daniel Gamez on Unsplash

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poems about early life

(x = space)

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poems about early life

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around the green S chair

(Rick and me)

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there was an S chair

green, upholstered

with that kind of hard,

bumpy brocade that was

uncomfortable

kept in the basement

and there were other things

as basements tend to have

and around the chair

and through the other things

there was an oval

made that we would run,

my older brother and I,

while the Three Stooges

ran on television

and we ran in opposite directions

to each other, and when

we passed each other

we would whoop in high-pitched

voices like the

Stooges whom we thought

must be having fun

in black and white

as we were

around the green S chair

and everything else

pushed to one or the other

in the basement

x

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a child’s Sunday night

x

everything was difficult

except sometimes on Sunday night

when we were downstairs

after baths or showers

pajamaed, robed

slippers over wrinkly toes

the TV set warmed up

Disney about to start

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the younger ones on Friday night

x

on Friday nights

we often would

gather ‘round the kitchen table

with popcorn

and malted, chocolate candy

playing The Game of Life

sometimes Careers

we were taught Rook

the Southern person’s bridge

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we played many games

and were okay

as long as my dad was winning

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I never sang for my father

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my dad took it on himself

to ridicule me

so that he might look bigger

somehow

whatever is in the mind

of the bully

I don’t know if that worked

inside

for him

while inside of me

as you might expect

there was resentment

and it grew

I had to win

and when I did,

I no longer cared

there was next to nothing there

and in the nothing

no relationships

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C L Couch

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I Never Sang for My Father is the name of a play and a film.

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Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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Father

(x = space)

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Father

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As in the fathers who are there

Who show up

Who have been there from the beginning

And those who are not there

Who left

Who might return

Might be changed

Might stay

And that be good

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God is father

God is mother

Jesus is the child

Fully grown and forever

The Spirit is inside

As well as moving

Through the world

Through the cosmos

A crazy family

Three in one

And one

But in each

And altogether

We have our learning

Our understanding

And our living

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Reasons and purposes

Wills and resolves

Choices

Actions

Parents are good at actions

Fathers are adept

At doing something

When they would do something

And they do something

Often

x

They act

They build

They love

The best ones listen

The best ones speak

Knowing with whom they speak

Skills vary

Loving intent doesn’t have to

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A father is remarkable

A mother is remarkable

A family

Is remarkable

Even though

There are so many

Constructed, reconstructed

Precious not for diamond absence

But for the abundance of love

We reach in

We reach out

We share

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Fathers do this

In the USA, this is their day

God bless fathers

Fathers turn to God

They may turn to each other

Turn more so to their partners

To their charges

And their charge

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Amen

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C L Couch

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Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash

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And All Forgotten Wars

(x = space)

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And All Forgotten Wars

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I hold my head

Look at the mottled

Skin on my legs

And wonder

In addition to

Genetics,

How my father did it

How did he live?

What was happening

On the inside?

He was alone

For so long,

One way or the other

I think he wanted

Peace

From the war

But wouldn’t say so

And eventually

The lack of peace

Took him

Pushed him

Where he did not want

To go

Inside a dark place

That would accept

No light

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C L Couch

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The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Walke (DD-723) underway at sea in Far Eastern waters, 23 November 1953.

by W.L. Fowler, U.S. Navy, from USS Yorktown (CVA-10) – U.S. Navy photo NH 99810, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1622057

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Doctrine for Three

(x = space)

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Doctrine for Three

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In dim light,

Something was handed me

A gift

In the dark outside,

We talked about

His father

Who had died recently

Whom I liked

(whom he liked)

And of family, generally

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His father’s legacy

Was to share outside

The family

I being one

I could argue worthiness

But then I’d miss the point:

Grace is free

It really is

Without conditions

And has to be

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C L Couch

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Anatomy of a dying stormcell. A stormcell dissolves over the San Francisco Peaks.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

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Memory of Father

(x = space)

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Memory of Father

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I have a memory

Not so long ago

So it might be true

Of visiting my father

They had let his hair grow

He looked like Gandalf

Or Saruman

Or Merlin

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The silver hair was beautiful

We talked

I left

Next time I saw him

His short hair was back

He looked like Hemingway

A compliment of sorts

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C L Couch

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Photo by Joshua Brown on Unsplash

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Then Let’s Keep Dancing

Then Let’s Keep Dancing

 

I only knew one perfect person

And he was crucified, my father said

Yes, but then he rose, I might

Have said

It was the argument beneath the argument

Not a debate about

Points of faith

 

I didn’t know all the demons then

There are others

To learn

My father’s got the best of him that was

His joy and anything of wisdom

I never got the teaching I deserved

Any child deserves

 

It’s a long way past hate

Worse, dismissal

That became the only way to get along

Stranger, either way

Never a decent conversation

Decent as in real

 

I can only sigh about it, now

So much of it is dust

Like the Kansas song

Or the one by Peggy Lee

Every generation needs a song,

According to my professor

Something that turns

That turns us into mortal means

Reminds us we are seasons

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Alex Seinet on Unsplash

“Wind on Wheat”

 

“Is That All There Is” is a song created by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, famously recorded by Peggy Lee.

 

Solace

Solace

 

It’s a kindness, really

To have a little something of my own

A pen, a pair of glasses

A pipe stand that belonged to my father

A photo of my mother, when she was a girl

Holding a little cat

 

It’s not remembrance

Or nostalgia

Mostly, it’s regret

For what they didn’t have

But should have had

 

A comfort only

That so much pain is gone

Absent from the Earth

Kept in the tears of God

And every now and then

When I press out my own

 

As if to keep them in a scrapbook

A book of scraps

The little bits that are my own

 

C L Couch

 

 

Image by Anne-marie Ridderhof from Pixabay

 

Curmudgeonly

Curmudgeonly

 

I need to switch and place

Bread into the toaster twice

(thank you, Krups, and

the stranger who kept me from

buying the toaster I wanted,

telling me it

was no good)

 

But now I’ve noticed

That the toast comes out

Misshapen (thank you,

Pepperidge Farms, though this

time I mean it), crust

Bubbling away or so it appears

 

I like it

Sometimes I like misshapen

Things: my father tried, I think,

To pick bent-over trees for

Christmas

So that he could make them

Strong, the instinct of

An engineer,

A carpenter,

An English major

 

The heath must be blasted, after all

Or there will be no drama

And Romantic ruins cannot be

So even

Otherwise the outcast will not

Find the broken corner to

Inhabit with all thoughts

Of desperation

 

What if he had left alone

The Christmas tree?

My mother would have tried not

To stand for it

And succeeded:

The holiday should be an

Evened-out affair

 

In a house with so many children,

She was right; a

Democracy of gifts and celebration

To reign like the newborn

King arrived to recognize

 

But the body is not even

On both sides—curly hair has

Taught me that

And it’s fine

It has to be

Maybe being left-handed helps

The army that marched on that side

Fought and won and disappeared,

Vexing the Romans

And giving rise to left as sinister

 

Keep the shapes misshapen

For the love—

 

The half-burnt cookie you might

As well eat now

 

The tattoo where she slipped,

Leaving a twitch on the mermaid’s

Tail

 

The Earth where everyone is not the same

Leaving discovery our happy

Mandate

 

C L Couch

 

 

Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) at sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park: Hidden Valley Campground

Jarek Tuszyński / CC-BY-SA & GDFL, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3466755

 

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