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My Son Has Not Spoken

My son has not spokento me

in the month he has hidden

at his mother’s

since shoving me

four times, hard, with flat hands

that now palm basketballs

My wife called police,when I chose

not to lay my hands on him

in anger and he did not stop.

I had stashed his car,at a neighbor’s

after lip about fixing his head-light,

finding his lost driver’s license

not driving stoned---a deal we’d made

when he couldn’t wait to have a car.

“Where’s my fucking car”,

he said,starting there,

spit flying from his lips

never asking

or conceding a thing.

After the attack he fled,

Cops brought him back

counseled us, had seen much worse.

He was free to stay, I said

But had to chain the dog.

We ate together, or

at the same table, passing food,

each “thank you father” a slap.

The next day, after school

I broached the subject,

put a pin in the assault,

but wanted to be heard.“

It’s not the end of the world

that you crossed this line,but

It can’t happen again,

I’ll accept your calling card

as a man and judge you as a man.”

He’s 18 now. Cheekbones like flint,

fat-free athlete’s body

pick-up no quarter basketball games

with older black guys.

Handsome, sullen, An animal

trapped behind his eyes.

“If you’re a man” “you have to keep your word.”

said not much but what

you might expect---wouldn’t be threatened

in my house...

Enraged again, called me a hypocrite.

recited fictional beatings

at my hands--- “Which my mom will attest to”

he said,and the weasel appeared visible for an instant

eying the crippled bird

rising from the tangled brush

between us. He left.

Returned a month later

seeking money, driving a new car.

At my shocked expression

smirked,“You’re jealous because my mom

bought a nicer car.”

Having practiced

patience as a hunter I said nothing.

The bird rose, spinning on its bad wing.

The weasel ducked out of sight

My son drove off, brand-new, web-ready

color cell-phone at his ear

ready to communicate.

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This is very good. I don't

This is very good.

I don't think you should be tentative about sending out poetry.

You can always fictionalize some of the more personal poems.

Kyi May Kaung