My Dad probably couldn’t tell a poem,
From a recipe for lentil soup,
And has exceedingly little use for either,
That’s two differences between us.
In fact for the longest time,
All we had in common,
Was a shared fondness for Star Trek,
And a loathing, for one another.
Our interactions came and were formed,
When the school principal contacted him,
Your son is in detention,
Your son is out of control,
Your son is about to get kicked out of this school,
Those phone calls to my father,
My biggest fear,
That’s how I grew up,
My worst enemy,
Just out to punish me,
Or otherwise a father, whose never there.
He got mad at my behavior,
While I compared him to Darth Vader,
‘Cause how could he be my father,
I liked to liken my Dad to that black evil monster,
‘Cause I didn’t feel like his son.
He used confiscate my possessions in punishment,
Wake up to find things missing out of my room,
He’s already gone to work,
And if only he had been there,
I could have shown him,
How much I hated him,
Never gonna forgive him,
When I was sixteen,
I scratched off his face,
From my infant photograph with him,
Had no right to hold who that baby became,
Doesn’t know who I am,
Spend time with me and doesn’t try.
Didn’t ever want to talk to him again,
And didn’t sometimes for days,
For weeks that would have been for-ever, if I could help it.
Because I was living under his roof,
In His house, His rooms,
His bullshit, his face,
I just wanted to punch it in,
… because he was much bigger than me.
My adolescent time passed, our tension eased,
With the end to my grueling high-schooling,
Without principals calling,
We have a kind of agreement in principal,
Don’t bother me,
And I won’t be bothered by you.
We might watch together some Star Trek,
And I began working on building up a HECS debt.
For years, it was left at that,
When I saw in another photograph,
The same face that had I scratched away from me as a baby,
Became…my own face.
Different hair colour,
Smaller stature, sure,
But there he was, his features all over my face,
Started from that one photograph I started to find,
All his strengths and frailties were similar to mine,
When my father laughs,
He laughs from the belly,
Just like me,
But it’s not a thing he confiscated for penance,
Just a shared sense,
Of black humour,
A world that all too often needs laughing at,
Whether you swing from the right or left.
When I left the country.
In affection He called me,
His Frankenstein’s monster,
Let loose in the world,
This is how I see myself too.
I’m assembled from recognized,
Components of him,
None of them now grave or hateful.
I became the impudent boy that he is,
My Dad mellows, more youthful with age,
As I ratchet up grim rollercoasters of rage.
A strange trade.
Those long years in between his scratched-off face,
And finding my own place in life,
Saw me now re-watching Return of the Jedi,
With a closer, more analytical eye,
In that movie Darth Vader, the evil monster died,
Once begotten, the dark father shunned for years
But unmasked and demystified by time,
Redeemed and seen reborn in the arms of his son,
It’s geeky, it’s a monstrous conceit,
But I saw the force of good in him,
Through his similarities to me.
We took years learning not to fear one another,
This brings us to this summer,
I will be away for his birthday,
And Christmas day,
Where usually every year,
My Dad and I delve into every topic,
That polite company prefers not to discuss,
My poor sisters and mother,
The others have to duck for cover,
Pleading with us for no more,
Of these rounds we’re firing,
Like we proxy for Andrew Bolt and Michael Moore.
Across the table and platters,
The women of the family will never understand,
These globally warmed heated discussions,
They can’t see the animation twinned in our faces,
Thriving in impersonal mercurials,
We both convinced we have the monopoly of truth,
Then, call a truce,
Agreeing to disagree,
Both in glee having dueled with a worthy adversary,
A way we’ve found to relate,
Our unique way to communicate.
We know us both,
An opinion not worth itself,
Lest you can beat someone else over the head with it,
Not live at let live,
We both feel alive when we striven,
A life not to suffer fools,
Who are foolish in their foolishness,
And if they could only see how foolish they are,
But they just don’t get it… the fools.
He still only knows as much about me as Mum tells him,
We still don’t talk much,
We can drive somewhere together,
Two hours in the car yet exchange all of ten words.
The sum, of differences,
Between lazily watching slow films in fast forward,
And a guy, who can’t service a bike of his won accord.
I understand those vast spaces between our words,
Those years lost opposing worlds,
The gaps of a generation generated between,
The sixties and the nineties,
Not cats for cradles,
Just discs in the DVD player,
As we sat watching Star Trek together.
We really don’t to say much wih words,
In order to understand each other,
Because every time we meet now,
I understand his personal quirks somehow,
Things that became the more important parts of me.
Not just who I turned to for help keeping my car on the road,
Or taking the brunt of the financial load,
Lending me a few grand,
To extended my travel plans.
More than simply this,
He is the very source of that strength in my hands,
Holding the driver’s wheel and never yet causing an accident,
He has shared a keen mind with me,
Our knack for insights,
Plainly missed by lesser minds,
He enjoys his books and his bikes,
A quiet drink,
Some time alone to think.
It’s what makes my dad, my Dad.
All the same things that make me, Me.
An apple, not falling far from his tree.
I love him.
I’m not going to leave un-articulated,
So like David said to Captain Kirk at the end of Star Trek 2,
There something I’ve wanted to say to you,
Today the time has come,
To say, Dad,
“I’m proud… very proud, to be your son.”
Well, couldn't think of what to get my Dad for his birthday this year, so I wrote him this, and emailed it to him earlier today. God knows what he'll make of it. I found it surprisingly and incredibly difficult working this subject matter into a piece of reasonable length, clarity, accessibility or artistic merit, but... considering the absolute mess it was as late as this morning, I'm reasonably happy with it, although another rewrite and edit down to something more athletic will happen at some point. For now, I'm just glad to have delivered on time.