It’s your birthday old dad     time for petrified cake and brittle candles
time for America to dust off its lap and pretend to give a shit about

beauty and blooming marigolds and live oaks and that scent that comes
with old good parchment and the blood of orchards     today I think

of your voice creaking like rusted hinges from your reconstructed mouth
I think of you flecked with iron on battlefields where brothers tore

into each other’s flesh     I think of you walking gingerly along the edge
of the Atlantic fishing for different pronouns and also I think of my true

father     another Walt who made things beautiful     who lined up lumber
and drove nails one after another after another after another until there

was something solid beneath my feet     whose laughter was my first taste
of poetry    I come by this honestly    this tendency to build and also

to grunt stubbornly against my own flesh     to keep writing my name
in ink with my middle finger     to sit like a spider in the corner of a room

waiting quietly for just the right word     just the right nail     just the right
horsefly to bite into and fill my chest with warm and steady lightning