I used to sleep in your room
Because you would wake in the middle of the night
Waking everyone up
And your brother couldn’t go back to sleep,
So I’d read the Tao in the spare bed,
Then when you stirred,
I’d grab you and put you in bed with me.

Sometimes I read the Tao to you,
Thinking you might catch a few lessons
Of how to be calm in frantic lives, r energetic when
Things went flatline, but mostly so you would stay asleep.
I probably was the one sleeping like a baby,
It seems my snoring kept you content
Because you never woke anyone else.

You’ve kind of had this Chi thing going,
An energy that I can’t explain,
One you have a hard time understanding.
It pulls you this way,
Tugs you that,
Kind of the way you’ve always yanked
On my heartstrings and played with your emotional yo-yo.

But that is you,
A full portrait of the Tao,
An energy not able to be named,
Nor understood,
But given to others with such generosity,
Often held from yourself in a difficult and stingy
Yin-yang thing that makes it all incomprehensible.

Yet you have clarity,
You know what you want,
Your standards are high,
You have a vision, and it’s all right there,
But patience is difficult when you know you’re ready
While the world says you must wait, so there is the test,
Will you wait out the troubles to find what is on the other side?

You will and I’m going to bed,
“I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight,” is playing on repeat,
You know Neko brings the sounds that wash over frayed nerves,
We share her therapeutic echo, I’ll read you some of my latest book,
Some writings by Bruce Lee where he says, “give with adversity,”
“Bend slightly and spring back stronger than before,”
“Wu-Hsin,” no-mindedness…

Follow those thoughts, my daughter,
For you will recognize their lessons
From those readings in Downingtown not so long ago…
From the way you have lived this short life of yours…
And hopefully from the love that flows from me
To you
As you continue to listen to me think in the way we always have.

So I’m in the city of champions
Excluding Foxboro, Montreal, and Los Angeles,
I’d be in Pittsburgh
With its three-sport existence
Where time would seem to have blessed the city
With more than it’s share of winning seasons.

If only Philly had such a history…

But tonight I found that abandoned churches
Can brew the best Almond Joy liquid representations
And renovated YMCAs make for great hotels
With their hipster crowds and pick up dodgeball games.
Man I wish the libations and exercise didn’t conflict
Or that my old soul could party and play that much harder.

At least I didn’t bleed when the ball hit my nose piercing…
(I don’t have one, but someone else did…)

Before arriving in the Steel City
I stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial.
Words are hard to find for what I felt,
But I’ve only had that feeling at
The Vietnam Memorial and
When Taps was played at my grandfather’s funeral.

Sometimes emotion is too much…

So we lean on the mundane,
Like amazing crab dip and steak to distract us.
The whiskey and tequila helped and
Whoever invented Uber
Must have had too many DUIs
To drive safely. Thank goodness for them!

Thank God my daughter was there for the important stuff!

Two men bound by duty
Met in the stadium grounds
After a football match
Of the Aussie kind

The chaps, only interested in leaving
Got waylaid by the evil looks
That stoked an all out cat fight
Between one’s wife and the other’s daughter

The young lass must have eyed the elder wrong
Causing the matronly one to pounce.
The father came to his daughter’s rescue
Only to be decked in the jaw by the cougar’s husband.

A general scrum ensued
Until the exiting crowd stepped in
To end the donnybrook
And return calm to the football loving spectators.

The daughter sulked back to the stadium
And the most assuredly gentle reassurances of worth
Only her mother could provide,
But they were too scared to leave alone.

The team, knowing the family well,
For the father was a team official,
Banded together and used all their brawn
To get mollifying mom and annoying little snit daughter safely to an auto.

Meanwhile, the husband calmed his ranting wife
Who swore, both literally and spiritually,
That she would not be treated as she was
By someone obviously so spoiled and manipulative.

Once she caught her breath
The offended one got in her car
Leaving her husband alone
With the father he had just punched in the jaw.

“Sorry about that, mate,
I thought you were attacking my wife
And I just came in
To protect her.”

“No problem, I should have let your wife
Rough my daughter up a little bit.
You’ve got some punch,
That was great fun.”

Husband and father
Shook hands and had one more laugh
Before getting back to listening to their loves wax on
About their meeting for days on end.

Who knew Google
Could be so funny?
Mother and daughter,
Mother in law and wife,
Sat on the couch trying to explain
The particulars of a specific garage bug.
They decided to Google it.

“Grasshopper like insect with extremely long legs”

The intuitive search engine is also clairvoyant
As an image of a grotesque spider looking grasshopper
Popped up on the screen.
It may as well have been real
Because mother and daughter jumped from the phone
As if the camel back grasshopper
Had used its defensive ploy
Of hopping at aggressors
To scare them away.

Mom covered her mouth,
Futilely trying to hold back her laugher.
Daughter let out her standard
Rafter shifting belly roll.

It was great.

The idea of a son being sent
To battle
Is something I can’t imagine
The idea that my son
Would need to have that level
Of toughness
Is not what I would wish for him
But were that idea to be
His lot
I hope I passed on the strength for him to survive
I often wonder what kind of soldier
I would have been
Thrown into situations
Where enemies don’t care
About doctor’s notes
Or my parents’ concern for my safety
Where my team needs my best
Despite a nick to my skin
Or an ankle not liking the long hike
I hope my son has that toughness
Where he knows
To forge his way
Without the protections and supplications
I might offer him
For it’s his life to achieve
Not mine to ascribe
His toughness must come from within
Not be protected and nurtured
Like Velcro, helicopters, snow plows
Or any other parenting gig
I might employ

Do it for you, son
Do it until you can’t anymore
Do it despite my efforts to make it easier

The same goes for you, daughter