Dad was less than impressed when he learned
I was a superhero-in-training,
Less than thrilled that training involved
Single bounds from dressers across the chasm
Of obligatory beige 80s carpeting
Onto the Pooh Bear sheets on my double bed.
Boy, did he ever whoop my ass.
He beat the ever-living hell out of me.
It was a one-man steel cage match.
He clobbered that 5-year-old.
He pulverized that 5-year-old.
He mauled that 5-year-old.
He gave that 5-year-old a thing or two
To think about.
He dished out the most epic beating
Of that 5-year-old’s young life.
He showed that 5-year-old who was boss.
He showed that 5-year-old who wore
The pants (mine were down around my ankles,
Yet to be stained with residual blood).
He showed that 5-year-old what it meant
To be a force of nature.
He was a late-season gust ripping last leaves
From a dogwood that would never learn
To flower.
He totally demolished that 5-year-old.
Fuck that 5-year-old and his impulses
And his stupid cravings for hugs and play.
There were plenty more beatings after that
But that’s the one I wear
Close as the tears that never quite drip
From ducts toughened into immunity.
Who would have guessed listening
To that 5-year-old’s screams and pleads
That tear-proof ducts would be
His superpower?

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