3 a.m. Dad Sleeps Without Hearing

Understand me; I do not proselytize. I sit quietly

In clutter, dad’s possessions of 60 years lie

Between my pacemaker and his bedroom, he’s up;

I’m talking about doctors about emergency rooms,

Hearing aids freedom from fearful bodily limits,

He’s 88, I’m talking about friends, enough food,

Safety, lost phone, his driving when mostly he talks

Of another statewide decision, he hates politicians, taxes

He says “You can stay up fusing all night and day,

But I’m going back to bed.” I sigh, he might sleep,

Listen to all-night talk shows on his radio next to bed,

Remember TV ads, for this pillow I might use for my

Arthritic neck. I worry about this need of hearing aid

Whether to buy one, we’ve talked about it many times before,

Better hearing which brings better driving, I’m 67,

I don’t drive could have killed. He might not listen as I speak-up.

I ask is he healthy with body changing, I say can’t last forever.

I have two total knees, so does he. In May he fell, didn’t even

Tell me how bad; he pulled himself into bed, into dark

Morning, finally called friends after his admission, I called him,

No answer, nothing from phone. He drove himself to emergency

Room. Surgery dangerous repairs, bleeding into spine, sewed

Bloody nerves, sewed broken vessels, weak in hospital; what if

Smashed himself up in his SUV, says he loves his car, except

For his Dodge pickup largest ever one-ton diesel his horsepower

Sits in corner drive. Now he’s sleeping, not hearing me

Typing my poem of concern, love and forgiveness,

My epitaph for oil-rig-man, high school teacher into more

With tenured electronics, math instructor all over Sierra College

Me writing, teaching English, American literature, grammar,

Even technical writing, my job to document this greatness

After years of my therapy, my dad fading into Colfax, California,

Taught Students how to learn, even me college algebra.

He matters, success for 28 years, tenured both

Institutions, could never leave because Marilyn

Is deep into Sierra earth, headstone room for him, can

His resilience, perhaps thinking of her, into past loving memories?

My understanding for my dad’s love for my step-mom,

My mother forgotten? My brother calls for rough instructions,

Dad needs his sons both of us Doug from Des Moines,

Me near Sioux Falls with memories of Pacific waters,

Three and seven years old he left us from Coastal Range,

To tallest California mountains Sierra Nevada 14,000 feet

Donner Pass, treacherous Lake Tahoe snow, Reno into deep

Valley. He’s at 2,500 feet, put chains on; he’s father, grandfather

Finley great grandfather to child he might never see;

I will come back to salvage, watch as others clean out belongings

When they make his hillside home someday Ready for sale,

Dad, as husband, believer in greatness of God as I do,

I can’t think as tears Come to take over, I know him,

I pray, “Oh, God be with us!” I’m not extractor, he

Achieved friends industrial technology, their expectations

More than me. His Ojai grammar school teachers–he

showed them, rough childhood working for Ray Bower

Just like me at 11 with my paper rout, his math in high

School escaped me, even so what they expected

In is schooling almost lost to Ventura oil fields, catwalks quit

For Cal Poly because union transferred him to driller at age

Nineteen when he was almost killed by drunk roustabout,

Great entrance exams at Cal Poly College his BA, MA,

Students who will never forget, I defend mother; she believed

In me, I lived with dad, returned to mom broken much later.

For dad Bill Fisher’s astronomy now gone, as TA his approach

To calculus performed in Mountains where he fished,

His home rebuilt with huge redwood deck;  gone

I finished four degrees later to be just like him.

We are friends. Jack Moore moved to Oregon forests,

Friends have died, so many in technical departments,

Still math and science, physics, economics of US failure,

Philosophy of teaching, thirty years past, those stories practical,

The invisible in his hands, he’s great with tools, ciphering

On yellow pads, slow movement to computing, still helping

His neighbors, artificial intelligence he will never trust just

Turn off electricity human power to control, his ham rigs

At 88 learning about social networks not so important

Recovering his passwords for laptop. Will never trust

Democrats, my real wiring of his soldering guns, vacuum tubes,

Changing so fast who can keep-up, only printed circuits

I help him be careful of charges for some items, can’t read

Poetry without suffering, I feel sorrow for my parents, so helpless

Mom never saw purchased desktop computers as they

Became obsolete, complete until dad seldom used it

New laptop, he prefers Windows 8.1 days empty

Just box except for e-mail, games he always wins

Of solitaire, I’ll teach him a few tricks he’ll open

Computer apps, yet, how much longer this man waits?

I’ve followed him as I could in my own mistakes, what

He respects my is wife with her BA, MA, just as he did

Both as successful in work, though not expected,

We learn. my BA, MA, Ed S, MFA brought me close

To reaching for the stars, lifting heavy words,

After his great gifts with people, his own great solitude.


Published by elgwyn

I was a University and college writing teacher, now retired, so I write poetry, and essays, mostly free verse poetry. I love writing. Computers, tablets, and smart phones are the norm. When one sees university campuses with students looking at phones while walking to class, one realizes writing can be blogging. I am an ordinary man writing for artistic pleasure writing, and simple taste-- blogs are an answer to high priced self-publishing. Walt Whitman had to print his paper books himself, because in 1855, and 1860 poetry did not sell. It does not sell now unless you have a Pulitzer Prize and even then the poet usually makes a living in other ways than writing. In all ages there have been writers writing out of their own needs, and blogs are an answer to get rid of high cost of self creativity. I am an older man with fewer computer skills than my daughter who has been at computers since she was three, so here I can satisfy my need to write without spending too much on self-published books. All three blogs let me reach an audience missed by books and stand a better chance to reach a wider audience. My two books, Winter from Spring, Meditations on Gratitude, as Kindle books and paperbacks did not reach as many people as I wanted, and blogs can let me avoid the printer. Layout and design is expensive. For me writing is more like the charcoal jottings of preexisting civilization made only for posterity. Blogs face two problems as I see it. They might be submerged into a chaos of too much writing, and they depend on electronic storage. Yet, how's that different from electronic books which must have specialized publication? Paper disintegrates, blogs can be physically stored and organized for posterity in data banks. All organization becomes chaos at some point, but charcoal images on cave walls still exist after the author scribbled eons ago. So what if I reach only a few interested people, but hopefully, readers will reach out to me. Writing is essential for showing the ways of culture before history knows those ways. To record each individual is essential especial for billions of people who need to know enough reading beyond pictures to save a planet. Writing without profit isn't new to me. I'm not seeking to impress the audience. Poetry in general never sells, and personal confessional, and emotional writing exists sometimes like journal writings only for the author. At least here is my hope for wider audiences. My writing is personal and informal, but my writing expresses some serious ideas like the writing of contemporary writers to rise above chaos in my own simple way, above self-absorption, a meditation, the simple writing of an ordinary man. I hope to find my own way out of my own chaos and make my record stand alone if even in electrons. Though I hope never to express nightmare in my poetry, fiction, or essays, some serious considerations are important to me after centuries of mechanized nightmare. The next decade is probably of the same failure in our world. This decade looks to be another time of diminished individuals and the next as well. We all wish peace and hope will become normal. It looks like if hope reaches each individual, not governments there is satisfaction in making means of writing available to many. My hope is for each human being to give their own expression out of the abyss. If humankind is to survive in any common way, we must each be able to express maturity and take responsibility in something beyond self. Electronic media offers people these possibilities so long as computers can store individual lives. Here people can freely see what I write and what others write. Though I hold an MFA in creative writing my simple vision never found a wide audience. I was disappointed about this earlier in my life, but now it's just what one expects of such degrees. I found happiness in family and especially in love of my wife and daughter. Writing can be more than a pastime now that I'm older. I approach seven decades living with some disappointing times, and some satisfying times. I'm like most people, and I've been married more than 37 years, and we sent a successful daughter into the world. We happily live in a country where even the poorest have food. Often as a young man when I traveled for nearly one year through Europe, where does a culture begin to feed and house so many people, and how do all these people live in harmony since World War II? Maybe it's been a question of survival. Writers can hold a little corner with blogging, blogging for harmony and peace. This is my hope. This is my question.

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