Sunday, May 25, 2014

Darth Vader Died, My Dad (live performance video from May 2013)


Leading up to making/releasing the 'Product' album last year, I had a bunch of videos shot and professionally edited, a few of them made it onto YouTube, though after the launch itself I never quite got around to making the rest of them available online.

So here is my original/definitive poem about my Dad. Originally written close to 6 years ago, the landscape around us, both personal and political, has changed somewhat, as regular readers of this blog will know.   But underlying it all, I think this poem still has honesty and emotional value.

Additionally, I have of course distanced myself from the poetry community and slam poetry in particular. Nevertheless, almost a year ago today, I had a great time at this gig.  Enjoy

(if you are not seeing a playable video window click here)


My Dad couldn’t tell a poem
from a recipe for lentil soup
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 fondness for Star Trek
and loathing for one another
back then we interacted
only when the school principal
contacted him
your son is in detention
your son is out of control
he’s about to get kicked out
of this school again

those phone calls were my biggest fear
he got mad at my behaviour
I compared him to Darth Vader
likening my Dad to that evil black monster
‘cause how could he be my father?

when I was sixteen
I scratched off his face
from my infant photograph with him
he had no right to hold
who that baby had became
doesn’t know who I am
spend time with me -doesn’t try

confiscated possessions in punishment
things missing from my room
and him already at work
not there so I could show him
how much I hate him
didn’t talk to him for days
for weeks that would have been for-ever
if I could help it
living under his roof
his rules, in his house his Television
his unreasoning bullshit
his face scratched out
I just wanted to punch it in
but couldn’t…
because he was much bigger than me

with the end of high school
our tension eased
without principals calling
we had a kind of agreement in principal
don’t bother me and I won’t be bothered by you
I began working up that HECS debt
we might sometimes sit together watching
some Star Trek

for years it was left at that
until I saw another photograph
with the same face that had I scratched
away from me as a baby
my father’s face in a photograph of me
different hair colour
smaller stature sure
but there his features were
written all over my face
as I left for overseas
I heard him call me his Frankenstein’s monster
let loose in the world
recognising now that I’m assembled
from different components of him
more than facial features
I have found his strengths
and frailties similar to mine

at family gatherings delving into every topic
polite company prefers not to discuss
my poor sisters and mother duck for cover
they will never understand
these globally-warmed heated discussions,
pleading with us for no more
of the exchanges we fire like proxies
for Andrew Bolt and Michael Moore
failing to see the animation twinned in our faces

we both –know- an opinion isn’t worth itself
unless y’can beat someone else
over the head with it
it’s not live at let live
live to not suffer fools,
who are foolish in their foolishness
we’re both convinced we have the monopoly of truth,
then call a truce, agreeing to disagree
having duelled a worthy adversary
we’ve found our unique way to communicate

in years between scratching out his face
and finding it the same one
atop my own head
I re-watched Return of the Jedi
with more analytical eyes
where Darth Vader the begotten dark father dies
unmasked, and redeemed
reborn in the arms of his son

I understand now those vast spaces
between our words
those years lost opposing worlds
generation gaps between cats in cradles
and discs in the DVD player
watching Star Trek together

I know now why I like a good argument
or even a bad one
my father laughs like me, from the belly
he laughs at what I laugh at
in a world that all too often needs laughing at
he enjoys his books and his bikes
a quiet drink and 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, simply stated
or better articulated
how David said it to Captain Kirk
at the end of Star Trek 2
today Dad the time has come
to say,

“I’m proud… very proud, to be your son.”




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