My Father

My father was an image,
My father was a smell,
My father was an impression –
Burned along young neurons.

Nothing left behind,
as if he never existed.
images of laughter,
being tossed in the air on his bed,
running to him for a cuddle,
getting burned by a cigarette,
and hit instead.

An image of a huge, powerful person,
this image remained,
even after I outgrew him at twelve.

Every early birthday,
imagining that he would show,
with a excuse worthy of being away –
people to save,
something noble,
instead of a ditch and a bottle.

He died on the side of the road outside Vegas,
returning to his tent outside of town,
carrying a few casino chips and a bottle,
while I watching an ultrasound,
first seeing my son’s face,
was fighting back tears.

He was buried by the state in an unmarked grave,
and I long to visit and put a marker there.
What it would say I cannot tell,
but everyone deserves a headstone,
and the occasional mention –
or perhaps a poem would do instead.

Gerald Lee Jordan
Diamond Harbour NZ
10 February 2013