My father’s curses are my curses now.
I abstain from the bottle,
In this world where ambulance rides traumatize
the wallet and soul.
Ask me how I know…

We got the sadness.
The deep, born-with,
“Not-right-without-a-pill” sadness.
The kind that begs for death
Alone in a room,
Bored beyond belief,
Nobody to listen to.
Nobody who wants to.

It comes and goes in waves,
But never goes away.
A gas leak that lingers,
Unwelcome and unnoticed.
You chase your dreams.
You sleep and sleep.
One second you breath,
And exhale a final release:

But we’re still here,
Aren’t we, Dad?
No drugs or alcohol or loneliness
Could get us yet.
For a man now of faith,
You always love a good bet.

We often talk of the child we used to be.
My Dad thinks of me: seated on his shoulders,
Bending down so I can look at things at flea markets.
My Dad thinks of his: a knock at the door in another state. A police officer. “Brady’s passed away.”
He was five years old.
Didn’t know what to say.

His father’s curses were my father’s, now.
“How to raise a son when you were never taught how.”
You gave me his name, but I don’t think for him.
You wanted me to be, an example of what he should have been.

Not a man who thinks women are to beat.
Not a man who shoots a pistol at his children’s feet.
Not a man whose heart belonged to and died because of the drink.
Not a man who leaves his son so clueless as to what to think.
The lack of confidence we faced,
How we killed every God damn “Could-have-been”,
You know your kids were eating out of dumpsters?
Do you know where you should have been?

And just as Dad thinks, to this day,
That he isn’t smart, and doesn’t know what to say,
He’s stunted by those thoughts for which you were to blame.

And yeah,

I have your fucking name.

I’ll use it better than you ever did.
My father and his siblings
were the best you ever did.

And I know you were lost,
Weak, and alone.
But I can’t forgive you,
For stealing what should have been my father’s sense of “home”.

He’s outlived you now, nearly twice.
Remarried to a loving wife.
Grandfather now, proud as can be.
Living on forty acres while you rot beneath our feet.
Give me three years, and I’ll outlive you, too.
Despite your failures,
It’s a shame you’ll never see us bloom.

My father’s curses are my curses now.
And I’ll set us free.
I’ll reclaim this name, because Dad,
you have always loved me.

Thank you,
For trying to give me everything you never knew how to.