My Dad probably couldn’t tell a poem,
From a recipe for lentil soup,
And he has exceedingly little use for either,
That’s just two of the 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.
Back then we interacted only when my 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… again.
Those phone calls to my Dad were my biggest fear,
He got mad at my behavior,
While I compared him to Darth Vader,
I liked to liken my Dad to that black evil monster,
‘cause how could he be my father,
He confiscated my possessions in punishment,
Wake up with things missing from my room and him already at work,
Not there so I could show him how much I hate 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, for days,
For weeks that would have been for-ever, if I could help it.
Because I was living under his roof,
His rooms, in His house,
His bullshit, his face,
I just wanted to punch it in,
But I couldn’t,
...because he was much bigger than me.
With the end of high school and adolescence,
Our tension eased,
We might watch together some Star Trek,
And I began working on building up a HECS debt.
Without principals calling we had a kind of agreement,
Don’t bother me and I won’t be bothered by you.
For years it was left at that,
Until I saw another photograph,
A recent one ~ when I was twenty three,
With the same face that had I scratched away from me as a baby,
My father’s face, but it was photograph of me.
And there he was,
Different hair colour,
Smaller stature, sure,
But his features were in that photograph,
Written all over my face.
As I was leaving Australia,
I heard him call me his Frankenstein let loose in the world,
We both recognize now that I am assembled from different components of him,
More than facial features,
I have found his strengths,
Frailties were similar to mine,
My father laughs like me, from the belly,
And he laughs at what I laugh at,
In a world that all too often needs laughing at.
At family dinners, Christmas’ and birthdays,
My Dad and I delve into every topic,
That polite company prefers not to discuss, (Please boys?)
My poor sisters and mother trying to duck for cover,
The women of the family will never understand,
These globally warmed heated discussions,
They can’t see the animation twinned in our faces,
Pleading with us for no more,
Of these exchanges we fire,
Like proxies for Andrew Bolt and Michael Moore.
We both –know-, an opinion not worth itself,
Lest you can beat someone else over the head with it,
Not live at let live,
Live to not suffer fools!
Who are foolish in their foolishness,
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,
We’ve found our unique way to communicate.
He still only knows as much about me as Mum tells him,
We don’t talk much, 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 own accord.
In the years between scratching out face his face,
And finding it the same one on my own head,
I re-watched Return of the Jedi with more analytical eyes,
In that movie Darth Vader the begotten dark father dies,
Unmasked, and redeemed,
Reborn in the arms of his son.
I understand those vast spaces between our words,
Those years lost opposing worlds,
The gaps of a generation generated between cats for cradles,
And discs in the DVD player, watching Star Trek together.
He enjoys his books and his bikes,
A quiet drink,
Some time alone to think.
What makes my dad, my Dad.
Makes me, Me,
An apple, not falling far from his tree,
His Frankenstein is my Darth Vader.
I love him.
I’m no longer 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,
Dad, at last the time has come,
“I’m proud… very proud, to be your son.”
As performed in front of the old man himself at the recent Passionate Tongues gig, a much-tightened up re-package of the original 07/12/2008 post. I should have grabbed a photo of him/us to slap at the bottom here to help sell the repackage I guess... maybe next time I start molesting old poems again. Meanwhile, enjoy.