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Father's Touch (Johnny Levy, Slam Poems Editor)

I was an asthmatic kid
And when I got sick
It was like breathing through
A wet afro in my windpipe.
The panic, the agony,
My own lungs
Strangling me.
Will the next breath
Happen? Can't think like that.
Just keep breathing,
Like heaving thousand pound rocks
With my chest.

And my father was
A workin' man, tall and
Black and full of muscles
White smile crooked
As a gentle hustle.
He lived outside the edges
Of real life
In a land of myth and legend;
Black belt superhero.
One night I was in bed
Wheezing in dim light
That spilled in from the living room of
Adult voices and murmured
And my Dad drifted in from work
Late night mahogany angel
Sat on my bed,
Laid his hand on my chest,
And in this memory,
I can't see his face
Or make out his words
Of murmured thunder
But I know they are kind
Words, my son, my son
And my eyelashes
Stretch the light
Behind his head
Into pins and needles
Blades of brilliance
A halo of radiance
His shadowed face
His hallowed face
Hand heavy on my chest.
Warm as sunrise, heavy as Gold.
And if you ask me
What does Father mean?
I paint you this portrait
Lovingly. And with tears.
Father means:
The one who
Comes down from the land
Of myth and legend
And murmured thunder
Splits the sky asunder and
Suddenly appears next to you
In a moment of wonder
Like Jesus Christ on a park bench
Comes to you.
In a strange and magical moment.
Fact and fiction mixture
Heartbeat whisper and deep wind
Tussles soul grass --
*Reality shivers*
A callused, heavy hand
With veins like Nile rivers
Slides through the cracks
Between heaven and earth
Descends and comes to rest
Heavy on Your chest;
And it's a radical intersection
Between golden streets and sick frail lungs
And god-like fathers and asthmatic sons.
And this mechanic's hand
Blackened, fissured, warm touch
Knuckles like knots of oak
Palm scratchy as corn husk,

I can feel it right now
Right there on my chest
The shape of comfort;
The heft of rest.
My Father's hands
Reveal God to me.
Hidden down deep
In the fissures and cracks
Blazing secrets in arroyos of black

God who gives us fathers.
And their hands as a metaphor.
And their distance
And sudden closeness
Makes us listless
For more.
And this world is full of asthmatic sons
In breathless need of the Father’s touch

The hand of our God that holds in its palm
The heft of all creation;
And all beauty in the world
And all mystery, passionate
Heart-cry of eternity
On your chest
Feel the press
Feel the burgeoning
To enter your heart
Like a spear, like a blade
Like a brand new start.
Like a gardening spade.
And He's close now
Feel His breath
On your eyelids
And it's Father, it's
Murmured thunder;
Raw, ferocious love
The terror and the wonder
The budding flower
And the burning sun
The yearning One
Who could wither you
In less than a blink
And you'd be done.
Your whole life like a twig
Between His finger and thumb.

And that hand that could have crushed you
That fist that should have crushed you

Opens like a flower

And gathers you home.

1 comment:


    But, seriously, I could picture everything that was happening here. I felt so mUCH HELP I HAVE FEELINGS NOW