Seeking a Father in the Endless Fractured War of Empire

father confessor, flights over
paddies, razing hills, mining
bowels, child soldier
like some private jumping
land mines, CocaCola
the juice in father’s veins
anaerobic, crystalline

the kamikaze salutes to
flags in the middle of
Shelby, Tennessee
stars and bars, homage
to the sundown laws
tree weeping for
one thousand years
strange fruit, strange fruit

nip and tuck, these Ayn
Randian racers smile
teeth corrected with fifty
grand, sculpted cross trained
economic hit men, the flies
on shit, whoopeeing all
the way to Goldman
and their sacking

it’s not easy, happy daddy’s day
Sylvia’s benediction to a devil:

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

it’s easy to be lulled into
empire, the hucksterism of Hollywood
epitaphs written by guys like Cheney
G. Gordon Liddy, the tough rotten
guys laying waste to the world
empires of brothels, Zionist
psychoanalytics, lakes full of
lobotomizing pills, philosophies

there are guys loving smiles
lifting kids up into sky
the pollen waves like dragon
tales, the tail of the whippoorwill
a large part of the myth
rejected by other men
deep in the heart of chicken
hawks, waiting for boys to slide
into men, soldiers of misfortune
these tweed-covered men

we are men with silver-lined tales
secrets about the seeds
the pathways into currents
deep diving, held in the
songs of the sea
men with women
together holding off
the revenuers, the money exchangers

Raymond Carver had a photograph
old man 21, and he carved love from
the feel of it:

October. Here in this dank, unfamiliar kitchen
I study my father’s embarrassed young man’s face.
Sheepish grin, he holds in one hand a string
of spiny yellow perch, in the other
a bottle of Carlsbad Beer.

sing out the tribal songs
not an embarrassment to Bly’s
drumming, circles, open
men holding the cup of wine
lamenting war, looking
to encompass ape and squid
leaving the bankers at the dead
canyon, hoping they will drink
from the well of protozoa
anything to have them belch
up death so we all can be left
fathers, fearless, the end
of madness, our new standard

With my father
I would watch dawn
over green fields. — Kobayashi Issa

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.