wesley gibson hall

legacy (11/14/94)

with eleven years
now passt
I find your mantle
easier to bear

what your close-'uns
can't remember
I am daily learning

to return from the grave
would do so little good
as your memory
serves a better model now
than your persona ever could before

I was addressed mr. hall
my mail comes proud
yours goes stamped
"return to sender"
or unopened by your ex-wife,
falls clank
in a black cylindrical trash can

To speak beyond this mind -
to yours living in death
your life beyond me.

if hostility is brought to bear
I can not ferret out
recesses of obvious pain

that which you may endeavor to teach
I am learning for myself
the world welcomes me with open arms

to me,
my father
is that
cold pavement
daily under foot

how I feel more welcomed by the world
than by you!

I would reserve judgement,
but my infinte hope dwindles

can not connection
lie beyond a short hill
a chilled will
to reach you over it?

I have lookt many places for my father
your interests, to mine,
bottle, bong and bitches
you treated women with the same respect
you afforded your children, and yourself.
Tough love.

where are your ideals now old man?
You aren't even here to abide by them.
Did your code include dignified death?
a bottle of vodka, two quotes and a bullet hole
four children, a wife and a job
doesn't cut it.

did you even teach me to learn?
that advancing aspect
of my progressive personality
I feel bereft of any inheritance.
is that what you intended?

What did you want to leave behind?
How did you want to be remembered?
What am I supposed to do now?
going on without you
makes me feel more callous
than you were
and stupid
because I know
you're more a part of me
than I could ever remember.

you had big hands
a big face
bad breath
pink skin
a large frame
soft eyes?

it's those things
I can't remember
your voice
your touch
your soul

I don't want a jigsaw father.

incomplete pictures
make me angry -
lead me to doubt
nothing stands up
when the foundation fades

you are nothing more than a ghost!
a ghost hunted by animosity
can not haunt this house
my doubts
dispel your power beyond the grave

you threw this baby out with the bathwater.

what would you reach out to tell me
were I to open my soul?

no message
comes through as clear
as resignation

so sadness
because I leave you behind
in my perfect life
and in so doing
bind myself
to your phantom chains
rattling in my mind
to the tune of "father"
or "dad"
or "parents"
or "husband"
or "great man"
or "alcoholic"

if you could tell me
where you went wrong
we could reach that heaven together
two wry souls
forgiving our sins

did suicide purify
your murky soul?
shave your grayed head?
hang your broad frame
with saffron robes?

my path to enlightenment
travels paths past

now I walk by
empty restaurants
I see empty cabs
fatherless children
an empty seat
at every family dinner
(that ain't no elijah!)
your bloody legacy.

a great man
would forgive your weakness
but I needed you
to help me be great!

as it is,
I find fatherhood
in random rantings
I acquire approval
from dubious fonts

you left me
to flames of hunger
advisings of
older men.

is that your voice
under theirs?
or just your ashes,
blowing away
like your values
and standards
we would have argued over?

- J. Hall

poetry | dad | life

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