The View From the Road

Every family is broken, in its own way. Some show the cracks and stress fractures more than others, but every family has a story of the time when someone went nuts, acted the fool, cheated and lied, broke someone's heart, or broke up a marriage. The trouble is, even though we all know it happens to everyone, we cannot often see it when it does in fact happen in another family. We have no way of knowing what goes on behind closed doors.

I personally love this poem. It was written while preparing for my first chapbook, my editor insisted on more personal pieces, family dynamic stuff, so I had no choice but to dig deep and see what I could come up with. While there is a certain amount of truth in here, this poem is an amalgamation of numerous incidents of my father being less than a family man.

It was one of the best received poems from the book "Grief Tattoos," and the great cerebralist poet Sam Peralta featured it as one of his "Poems I Wish I'd Written" series.


If you had driven past our house
on that late summer afternoon
you could be excused for thinking
that we were simply two out of three generations
enjoying the westering sun
by sharing secrets and familial whispers.

If you had not seen me
a few short minutes before,
screaming on the grass
beneath the drooping apple tree
as my grandmother ran toward me,
or my grandfather shouting “Why Chuck?”
to my father’s disappearing back
as he rushed away, slipping into
his baby blue Cadillac with the redhead
smoking in the passenger seat,
if you had not seen my mother
cupping her hands under her face
to keep blood from ruining her new carpet,
or the ambulance that drove her
and my grandmother up the hill to the hospital,
it would be natural to assume that we lived
the kind of lives that were written about
in Highlights magazine.

From the road you could not see
the torn screen door, or the frame
falling over on only one hinge,
you would have no way to know
what went on behind it.

Originally Published in "Grief Tattoos" - get the Kindle edition HERE

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