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Author 1702
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(or Collateral Damage)


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My father lived

on a remote island of alcoholism and memories

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of abuse at the hands of his mother

who got nothing from his father

but the back of his alcoholic hand.

Imprisoned in his brain were scenes of sailors

crashed and burned to crisps in the South Pacific

on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Bataan.

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My mother knew she was marrying a drinker.

What was she thinking when she sacrificed my sister

and me on the altar of her enabling him

to make an improvised explosive device

of unrelenting tension in the basement.

The man had his finger on a trigger

that could go off in an instant

if he chose to depress it from the depths-

heights of his manic depression

as an expression of his pain

which we had to pay for and join him in.

But the spotlight belonged to him and him alone.

He truly made our home his castle which

included the imposition of a moat of isolation

that he created with his deepfreeze demeanor

defying even relatives to cross that line

and visit the tightly-controlled archipelago

of his alcoholic Alcatraz.


On a late June school night

my father decided to ride

our little brown pony,

the tips of his workshoes

dragging the ground,

two miles up and down

country roads in a fine rain

to the Bivouac.

My mother always went out looking,

my sister in the back seat asleep

in pink puckered plisse p.j.s with lambs

and me in the front with a book. How much

homework could a six-year-old have?

Ginger was tied

to the Bivouac porch post,

rain steaming off his little back.

My mother stalked in. Her brother

Roy and my Aunt Twyla were toasting

with Daddy, whose beer overflowed

down his shirt and his pants.

Mother stalked out. He followed.

And swinging his leg over the pony he proceeded

to ride back the way that he'd come

slowly - - - - - - - slowly - - - - - - - slowly

accompanied from behind,

his midnight ride canonized

in the fine-rain hazy halo of our headlights.


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Vi's works appear widely both in print and online. She conducts Poetry Workshops and gives readings in Central New York. Her latest chapbook is "Sine Qua Non Antiques (an Arcanum of History, Geography and Treachery).

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