Letter to My Daughter on the 20th Anniversary of My Father’s Death

I write you today because you’re my all-time hall of fame heartpuncher
& from every day past this one, you are sure to have more days with me
Than I had w/ my father. For this I swell w/ gratitude & hope beyond
A shadow of a hope you will be grateful for however long you have me,
Or even a fraction of how grateful I am for you. But I am only a vessel
Through which god drones on incessantly. You know how I so bang &
Ramble w/ all my babblechat, tall on the inside though it often may be.  
But you see me whistle while I work because my work is infinite & free,
Asks me to answer to one I wouldn’t rather, which is a surefire blessing
Since everything else in life could not give less of a fuck about what you
Or I would or would not rather. I would always rather be having a con-
Versation w/ you, over a grape soda & chicken wings, no sauce. Funny
Is the best sauce the same way hunger is the best spice. Stay hungry &
Keep your taste buds sharp—you only get one set. Weird, I know, but 
I promise I’ll explain it to you a little later. Now that we have more time.

[Travel light & travel luminously. Under-]

Travel light & travel luminously. Under-
Stand these are not the same & anything
Else you are able. Each detail committed
Relieves the pressure in your head. Travel
Under cover of night, but never in shade.

Those who cannot follow instructions no
Longer need to worry about instructions or
Compliance. Those who can will eventually
Follow those who can’t. Do not be counted
Among the compliant, New American. Do
Not be complicit or conspiratorial or any
Task that casts shade of over the company
You keep. You cannot afford to confuse
Following & being followed, cannot afford
Much second guessing or wasting lighter fluid.  

[More than your hands can ever hold, you want]

More than your hands can ever hold, you want
To be held, want to be carved into the fabric
Of another’s heart, rough like the skin of trees.
No salt outside of the ocean & your skin
Can be trusted or considered original, but then

What does that mean anymore? You consider
Neither seed nor sin original. The choice to
Vegetablize yourself is a choice only you can
Make, New American. After this conversation
Everything I tell you will be off book, black
Operations, surveillanced to the bone. In near
Earth orbit, thumbs w/ unblinking eyes tick a-
Cross the night sky where we can’t track them
W/out instruments & either way we have no
Cover, no means to secret our current location.    


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).