We Did Not Fear The Father
We did not fear the father as the barber who stood
like a general in a white jacket with a green visor cap.
For six long days he held a straight razor like a sword
until his porcelain-chrome chariot became a down-home chair.
The crop-eared son learned to see how a workingman’s
day job after the night shift filled the son’s small pockets
with licorice, filled the offering plate, and paid for the keeper
who clipped our grape vines under his own pageant.
We did not fear the father as landlord in our three-story tenement
who took charge of four apartments and the attic dwellers.
We searched each corner of the dirt cellar for a fuse box
while he broke out plasterboard upstairs with a sledgehammer.
We peeled out paper from wire mesh and read the headline news
a century old before he lifted us like birds into our bunk beds.
We did not fear the father until he entered the tomb of noise
for his night job, shaping molten steel into ball bearings
as we stared into the barbed grate where he stood
before the furnace sending smoke into the trees.
Fear became the eight-hour echo and glow inside his skull,
the high-pitched metal scraping our ears as our provider
left the factory floor with oil and sawdust inside his mouth
and punched out as the fermented daylight burned his eyes.
We did not fear our father until he stooped in the dark
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