DETAILS OF INCARCERATION: Known Affiliations
My father updated his status from his cell
block to send a message of grace to “u know who u are.”
He updated it to convince himself that he should
avoid retaliation, and that “u know who u are” should
be glad my father has “a little bit of jesus” in his heart.
He does it from a cellphone that guards consider
contraband. I suppose his affiliations allow him to
Facebook. I suppose his affiliations greased guards’ hands.
I’m closer to him online than I am
offline. I can’t delete him.
His profile feels like an
amphetamine addiction. I want to
stop scrolling, but I can’t.
I want to look away, but I can’t, like
I know he wants to
stop using, but he can’t.
His profile is an intravenous injection; a rush
of memories and floods of what used to be.
A wife who made homemade
cheesecake and peppered green bean
casserole every Thanksgiving
and every birthday.
and a Siberian husky
with a pool colored eye and a bark
colored eye. The type of bark
on pine trees that he taught me
to shoot my .22 into.
I miss green bean casserole and cheesecake, and I miss our husky
who shed too much. I miss melting marbles for the Pinewood derby car
you carved for me.
And then I come
down. I come
back. Those things are
what used to be.
Sometimes I wonder who he’d be if a lot of Jesus filled his heart,
instead of the stuff that collapsed his veins like old mine shafts.
He might be affiliated with book clubs and good behavior status.
He might be affiliated with Thanksgiving and birthdays.
A Bit of Late Thanks for My Father
I don’t hear Good Morning America—I think
he’s crying in the living room.
The streetlights are still
yellow as old teeth, and there’s a pad
of cold air stooped on the window. I smell
the whirl of Folgers and his Marlboro
from my pillow. He hocks and snorts
a rickety nostril. He sounds like the coffee pot.
He’s alone. I imagine he’s hugging
his mug with two taut hands and
interlocked fingers to keep him warm.
I listen to him and I don’t leave bed.
“She can’t feed herself anymore,”
he said. “I have to.”
I sat on the yard’s knoll
and waited for the trigger’s
crack to blow
through the woods.
He shot our dog
with a Winchester 12 gauge slug,
which, you understand, was quick and painless.
He came through
the couple of oaks that fenced
the field he shot her in no faster or
slower than any other
day. His gun slumped
unfolded over his forearm.
He snaps the butane lighter and bleeds
another Marlboro. I listen
to him and I
don’t leave bed.
T.J. Morgan is a kayak tour guide on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He graduated from Georgia Southern University, and he will pursue an MFA at NC State in the fall.
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Thank you for both “father” poems, They do this journal well because so much of what they print has an emotional rawness to it that is accessible yet can unfold. Your poems are like that. Thanks.