Tuesday, December 10, 2013


DECEMBER 10 2013: A year ago today, on the occasion
of my late father’s birthday, I wrote this poem.

Eugene Norman would be  85 today. He died at 56.
I miss him still.



By Charles Patrick Norman

Had my father lived,
He would be pale and creaky,
His once-strong back bent with age,
Hobbling toward his car with cane in hand,
Determined to make the long trek
To whatever distant prison held his eldest son.

Through the chain-link fences I would see
His shock of white hair neatly trimmed, a G.I. flattop,
His spectacles thick now, glinting in the sunlight
As he checked his wallet, locked his car
In the prison parking lot, then slowly made
His way to the prison gate, alone.

Entering the visiting room his dimming eyes
Would squint and seek me out, and he would smile,
Yet I would know his heart wept at his son’s loss,
I would smile in return, embrace him in my strong arms,
And grieve for the fading of the vital man
He once had been, when we were young.

He would have stood in the long canteen line with me,
Suppressing the wince of pain every step evinced,
Demand that we order food and drink and eat,
Always the provider for his loved ones
Even though the effort cost him dearly, then
Would leave the prisoner in the window a healthy tip.

He would not have much to say, that was not his way,
But he would answer my every question
To my satisfaction and his exhaustion,
I would have to insist he take his leave
And leave me behind to my unknown fate,
He would shed one tear, he would have been eighty-four.

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