Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Thanksgiving with Arlo Guthrie

my father sat down on the edge of the bed
I was on the other side
trying to get my tie right
before he noticed I'd forgotten again
we had a "portable stereo"
back when a portable stereo
looked like a cinder block
he pulled a cassette from his jacket
slid it in
and pressed play
back when you'd have to actually press it
and soon we were once again
having our ritual
'Alice's Restaurant' had to play
in our bedroom
(we shared a bedroom in a tenement building)
before dinner with the family
I'm on my ninth try with this neck tie
my father broke out a homemade pipe
gave me a quick trust wink
and filled it from baggie at his side
my silk tie
now full of wrinkles and awkward folds
is being aggressively spun around my neck
quick and angry
stylishly violent
my father's gulping from a glass of bourbon
smiling at his favorite lines
between puffs from his pipe
Arlo's almost done
my tie now looks like a ball of used duct tape
my father exhales his last from the pipe
he looks back at me
and says
"We have matching Irish sweaters in the closet"

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