Father’s Day by Devon Miller-Duggan

Father’s Day 2018

We went to the pool. The baby took a nap on her uncle’s shoulder, which is the same thing she did last year when she was 6 mos. old—she may be destined for a water bed or a career on ships. We had pizza and ice cream from the creamery at Pretty Good U. They make a fig-and-goat-cheese ice cream to, well, not die for, but to appreciate profoundly, anyway. My husband and my sons-in-law are good men and good fathers, so we did happy things together because goodness needs to be affirmed and appreciated.

From my early 20s on, I always baked my father a peach pie and bought him a big fat novel, preferably by Michener or Clavell. He liked my cooking and we shared a taste for sprawling historical novels. We didn’t have a lot of points of connection. I spent all of my youth and much of my adulthood believing that he’d been the Bad Guy in his marriage to my mother and his parenting of me. And he was. But I’ve had a lot of time to look back at that marriage and think about how I was used in its battles since he died 15 years ago, and I’ve been able to forgive him in ways I never thought possible when he died. I have the scars, but I also have understanding and some sense of his human-ness that I treasure. He was a larger-than-life sort of human, so it’s a great relief to realize that he was as caught up in his own wounds and stubborn-nesses as I have been. I don’t miss the father I had when he was alive, but I miss the father I could have come to know, and who might have come to know me.

Meanwhile my country is tearing small children away from their fathers and mothers at our southern border and I am having an ugly confrontation with my own powerlessness as I watch ICE agents engage in behavior I read and read and read about while I was writing my dissertation on US Holocaust poetry. I’m not naïve. I know this is not new behavior toward brown/black/not-white peoples. We have a long wounded and wounding history here in this my country. We have miles and decades to go before we can begin to heal, and it will be hard work that will, inevitably, involve more hurts. And I am, as a Christian, nauseated by having the Attorney General proof-text the Bible to excuse the inexcusable—but that’s the sort of thing Christians have been doing for a long time, maybe especially in this my country. And it’s certainly no more nausea-inducing than any photo of an inconsolably confused and traumatized toddler that comes up on my FB feed. I look at all of them and keep reading as much as I can bear, because witness (and sending money to various organizations who are on the ground in Texas) are all I can do. Just as sending money to the International Rescue Committee and making myself look at photos from ____________ (insert ravaged Middle Eastern nation of your choice here) is all I can do about children drowning in the Mediterranean. If I can figure out anything else, I’ll do it. Or I hope I will. I would like to think I am capable of putting my body between an ICE agent and any human that agent meant to harm. Some of those ICE agents must have had a history class at some point in which they learned something about the Holocaust. Some of them are fathers or mothers, surely. Just as many SS officers and Gestapo officers were parents and supposed Christians. And they were/are all just following orders.

So, though I am surrounded by good dads, and have come to be more comfortable with how much I loved my own flawed father, this Father’s Day has been largely unbearable. I’m just terribly grateful that we didn’t sing “Faith of Our Fathers” in church this morning, because dealing with that country-faith-and-family blather might have broken me. The fathers the hymn refers to committed a great many crimes against humanity and got away with it.

No conclusion. For a change, I can’t find a way to wrap one of these blogs up except to wish healing for the fathers everywhere who wound other fathers’ children in the name of any ideology/religion/nation. And screw the 4th of July.

Say Good-bye To Something by Isabel Winson-Sagan & Miriam Sagan

Say Goodbye to Something

Goodbye to the self that I never really was, to my false future, to dreams unmet that were replaced with better dreams. You were great dreams and schemes and plans while you lasted- I was going to go to grad school, get a Scottish boyfriend, and be lonely and miserable far from home. I was going to go to Black Mesa and herd sheep and be in a lot of pain from sleeping on the ground. I was going to be an academic, isolated in an office, moving every year, mildly unfulfilled. Thank you, imperfect and flawed dreams of mine, that were replaced with healthier alternatives. Thank you for your sacrifice, alternative timelines. And good-bye for now, until you surface again in thought, reminding me of how much better off I am without you.



say good-bye
to my inheritance
to wanting something
money, love, approval,
a glass honey jar
shaped like a hive
it made me feel close
first child of my mother and father
to be promised
“you can have this when I die”

thank you, grandpa George—
we used to say that
paying the bill
at the nice Chinese restaurant;
he’d left us all money
and we spent every penny
even when the tax accountant
yelled at me
from Miami
for being a hippie

and so I’ll say
ciao, adios, I hope
we don’t meet again

I now possess
all I’ll ever inherit:
fear, a crooked smile, a fedora
what my father called
“the Yankee dollar”
what now seems just a breeze
in the evening
from land to sea.


Mosaic: Sources of Inspiration

Devon Miller-Duggan and I went to Philly to see the Isaiah Zagar mosaic garden. The neighborhood is also full of bits of mosaic.

He is a trained artist, but the use of space and materials has a lot in common with outsider/visionary art. Devon is known as a writer to readers on this blog. She also does mosaic–there is one in my back yard. Zagar gives an impression of using what comes to hand–but you can also see the careful selection.

As always, I’m looking for text.

I am planning on some mosaic for the Santa Fe Poetry Garden. Although right now these walls are bare–but inviting…

Thank you, Isaiah Zagar.