Fathom Mag

Smoke and Oxygen

A poem

Published on:
February 8, 2017
Read time:
1 min.
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I was the bad son.
Grass trimmings and brisket, like my dad.
Coffee breath, like my dad.
Smoke and Miller Light, like my dad.

I was the bad son.
Bald and beach burnt, like my dad.
Kept my arms big, like my dad.
Chicken Foot and heckling, like my dad.

I was the bad son.
“Just let me do it, son,” like my dad.
“How old are you, son?” like my dad.
“You’re cold, son,” like my dad.

I was the bad son.
Moved to Corpus, like my dad.
Wobbled in, waiting wife on the couch, like my dad.
“It’s just a miscarriage,” like my dad.

I was the bad son.
Gave Mother to coughing and to chemo,
To Marlboros and to breathing tubes,
Just like my dad.

And I was the bad son.
Stood on his Other Woman’s porch.
Dragged Dad out to the grass.
Sent him back to Mother’s wake.

I was the bad son.
Left Corpus for Huntsville.
Hid the booze until bedtime.
Wore the ring despite the yelling.

I was the bad son.
Read the large-print leather-bound my son gave me.
Sent him for a red tassel and hood.
Told him he makes me proud.

I was the bad son.
Moved Dad to the rest home.
Talked about Jesus.
Watched pride steal his life.

I was the bad son
And then the bad son again,
But not as much as before
Like my dad.

Patrick Pace
Though currently career-free, I spend every 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. eating peanut-butter-toast and writing esoteric, leathery flimflam. I share some of my career-free flimflam on patrickdpace.com and @patrickdpace.

Cover image by Mateo Avila.

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