Christopher Michael, gay, gay poetry

from sorrow to serenity

Songs My Father Didn’t Teach Me

1
I infrequently think about my father
negative aspects of our non-relationship
his lack of emotion
his inability to hold me
the way a father should hold and caress his son
is inability to teach me
yet expect me to know how to fight
how to play baseball
how to date girls
didn’t give me the dating girls in high school pep talk
I learned how to fuck boys on my own
I didn’t need you to learn me that, dad
I wanted to be dating boys, I wanted a boyfriend

2
I didn’t realize at the time I came out to my family
that I was the last of my line
there will be no more Paul’s sperm
my name changed so I wouldn’t be his last name ever
even dead
I didn’t know who he was
I blamed him for his past
his fear of not following his dreams and passions
for wanting me to follow my dream

3
what didn’t I learn from my father
I didn’t learn from my father that Jews weren’t Christ-killers
I didn’t learn from my father to protect myself from fag-hater slurs
I didn’t learn from my father how gays and Jew were gassed in Auschwitz
my father had been at war, he wasn’t a hero
he was nobody
just another Jew kid serving his adopted country
I think of my father as lacking fathering

4
songs my father taught me
isolation, long before I knew what that meant
fear of people and lack of self-worth
how valueless I was
I gave everything of value away because I was worthless!

5
from birth to 11, he was that strange man home on Sundays
stranger sitting in front of the TV
at night school for post WWII vets learning to become a CPA
an MIA parent, a distant product of his first-gen Russian upbringing
from 11 to something my father gave me classical music
thanks dear dead dad!

6
I asked my father if he loved me
response—I provide food, shelter and clothing
his only concept of love

7
my father and I were highly competitive
he specialized in his spare time, endless paint-by-number art
I was a gifted and degreed artist
he never missed an opportunity
to let me know how insignificant my art
I never missed an opportunity to make my father’s life hell
I never had an opportunity to let him know
how small he made me feel
last one walking out of his dead hospital room
bye dad, glad the war is over!
do I have positive memories of my father?
no, only the songs he didn’t teach me

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