He nearly died one day 
working for the U.S. Bureau of Mines
a engineer fresh from Carnegie Tech
checking gauges in a shed
while his bosses bled 
liquid oxygen tanks 

The explosion fattened the air
with chaos
and he ran from the shed to find
his bosses dead
save for one staggering around
all of which he probably said
at the inquiry

What a way to start a career

So he left it all behind
went to work in his brother’s
roofing business
The same brother
my mother accused
of grabbing her by the throat
in a shopping mall
choking her ’til a stranger pulled him off

He fell asleep on the couch most nights
wearing his fatigue
like his T-shirt and trousers
the TV telling stories
as his bald spot grew like a tumor

Here’s what I learned

Life is explosive 

So stagger from the smoke
Don’t choke