Happy Father’s Day

I lied. One more post. The poem below is from the new poetry book I wrote with my father. This poem is a bit of an ode to my father. Happy Father’s Day pop. See you soon!

The Carpenter 

A whirling saw blade

flings particles skyward.

Sawdust hangs in a sunbeam;

in that moment time floats.

Serrated blades of green grass

stand tall and menacing

but soon are blanketed

under a soft layer of dust.

II

Cherry, Walnut,

Maple, Oak,

Mahogany, Hickory

Poplar and Pine

hues of the earth

cover the workshop floor.

From this clutter

timber is measured

cut, planed

dovetailed, sanded

shaped and primed.

They become

your cabinets

your trim

your floors;

the bones of a house.

They are tables

filled with coffee

clattering plates

board games and food.

Soaking up secrets

laughter and tears.

Witness to breakups

first kisses, weddings

funerals and births.

The creaking of boards

The wind in the rafters

Front porch swings

And mended fences.

Work done yesterday

or one hundred years before.

The spirit of the carpenter imbued

Into his craft and into our lives.

III

The carpenter’s wife scans the room.

Her cabinets have no doors or drawers

The floors need to be sanded and stained

The walls need to be patched and painted

The tables and chairs are all off kilter.

She smiles, and exhales a sigh of relief.

At least I didn’t marry a dentist.

IV

When I was a child

I despised that buzzing shrill.

Saw blades whining

The monotonous thud of hammers

Always waking me too early on Saturday mornings.

The sawdust that clung to the high grass

Only a nuisance that reminded me of waking from a dream.

V

Tonight the rich aroma of toasting wood

hung on the crisp fall air.

Eyes closed, head high, I inhaled deeply;

my body warmed and energized.

Memories came wrapped in moonlight:

The sun rarely woke the night’s deep slumber

when we loaded tools into my father’s truck.

We spoke early morning words

in hushed voices of the dawn,

The floor of the truck littered with pencil shavings,

The cab steeped with sweat and coffee grounds;

Infused with the sounds of Ray, Otis, and Allman Brothers.

We worked through the moments between dark.

VI

When he gave me my first tool belt
I puffed out my chest and put my shoulders back

buckling that canvas and leather pouch at my waist.

On the surface I was the Outlaw Josey Wales

Deeper down it meant one day I could be like my father.

I buckled that tool belt less

When I turned my tassel left.

I made my own path

with new twists and curves.

Along the way I have stumbled

And made wrong turns

but what I heard

between the clanging hammers

and the saw tooth’s zipping bite

always leads me back

to the right path in my life.

I watched and I listened

And this is what I learned.

That love is the foundation

which a family builds upon.

A carpenter can build a house

But the bones don’t make a home.

How to treat a woman.

How to tell a joke.

When to keep quiet.

And when to take a stand.

How to drink whisky

And how to throw a punch

When to make your own way

And when to take a helping hand.

Through all of these lessons,

The laughter and love,

I saw the man

I hope I can someday become.

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