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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 23

BACK ISSUES

You break the neighbor's window, I break you,
my father said before he threw me
against the dresser
in his and my mother's bedroom,

then punched me in the neck.
I saw stars shoot
above the red shag carpet.
The next thing I knew,

I was in my room,
and my father watched TV.
His slurps of beer
foamed in my ear.

His cackles were swords,
cutting my gut. I tried
to take my mind off my pain
by reading a comic book:

a back issue of Iron Man.
On the last page,
a woman asked Iron Man
if Commander Kraken,
the issue's guest villain,

had drowned in a cave.
Iron Man ruminated
on helping the commander,
if he could have. But he didn't
find an answer. I was

confused: weren't super-heroes
supposed to know
right from wrong?
Weren't parents? Why

wasn't this so?
I didn't know yet
that my father was both,
physically and mentally abused
by his father;

I didn't know yet
that his father's infidelity and drinking
made him hard, scarred,
distrustful and angry at the world.

Now that my hair is almost as gray
as my father's, I understand that
I don't have to bury my anguish
like a treasure chest or a body,
as he did. Something always

has to happen in a comic book,
but it ends, for the most part,
until I hear my father laugh:
his cackles as sharp as the steel
of a powerful pirate's blade, stabbing me
for hours on end.

  Joey Nicoletti