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Father comes into the living room,
It's really safer to leave.
But I stay anyway 'cause once
He spoke to me.
The lingering musk of cigarettes
Heightens the tang of bourbon breath.
We built houses together around this area,
At least till the bankers came 'round.
He used the corner there for figuring.
Better not to talk when Father hits the booze.
He'll start the conversation
And finish it.
But he's easy to listen to
And his bitterness easy to understand.
The bastards stole his independence
Though he proved they were wrong.
Fixing peanut butter toast in the kitchen,
It's winter and the house is cold.
The creamy style is warming and shines,
And the coffee mug warms my hand.
This is Father's breakfast I eat,
He's eating his elsewhere now,
Up north, looking out the window
At the frozen lake.
He's not so bitter anymore,
Though he's still a cynic,
And begins and finishes conversations.
His creativity returns and he's funny.
"The damn ducks are wrinkling my lake,"
He says one summer morning.
At dusk he calls loudly to the loons,
And I laugh when they loudly call back,
A lonely sound over a northern lake.
You're great, Dad; the loons agree.
It's the only payment he'll ever see.