We ran in the woods,
I took the lead to set the pace,
I didn’t want to spend the day chasing,
More like getting lapped,
She’s must faster than I am.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost twenty-two years,
From a snot nosed kid, to a pain in the butt adult,
I love her, one of my best hanging partners,
Now a full fledged woman,
Long gone are her days in diapers.

On the last lap, she took charge,
I just let her go, walking whenever I needed to slow,
She’d look back and humor her old man
Knowing it was in her best interest to stay close
Since I was paying for breakfast.

img_1690
Drawn to light,
A parental moth looking for brightness
In an otherwise dark month
Where rain and wind conspired
To blur nerve’s sharpness by
Ratcheting the tension
Of a life stuck in a routine,
Bored by the same old roads,
Cookie cutter neighborhoods,
All too familiar faces, and
Inspiration locked away in the
Gotta-go-to-sleep closet.

The light was in Washington,
A place that has lately been part of the angst animation
That life has drawn daily.
The streets were empty and the company lively,
For my daughter braved the winds
Despite a cold brought on by the sneaky look at me
Kids who get the look and then sneeze
The projectile germs pre-service teachers must deal with.

We wandered the circles of the Hirshhorn
Where the activist nature of my personality
Showed its authentic self in my youngest’s siding
With the Guerilla Girls and their protest of publications putting
Men out there without a care for equal rights or even sort of equal rights.
We mosied over to the National Gallery,
Putting up with old masters and mocking the furniture
Until we finally saw her light,

The blur, the darkness, and all that is cool when planning
Meets the unpredictability of time, chemistry, and vision;
Sally Mann’s photography, beautiful, haunting, imperfect,
Kind of like my relationship with my kid,
Brought out feelings that have been lost for too long,
Seeing, risking, imagining, documenting
All parts of a creative’s engine, part of a parent’s toolbox,
Each needing to be charged with the soulful touch
Softly reaching out from the gallery walls.
We saw more;
Sugimoto, whose out of focus way brings clarity to mental noise,
Jasper’s shapes, suggesting structure in a chaotic world,
Georgia’s suggestion, Jackson’s overt sexuality, and a treat,
My old baseball coach’s father right there next to Picasso
Bringing to mind the set up to an unwritten joke,
“Two cubists walk into a gallery…”
Food truck lunch, over-priced Harbor coffee,
Some heavy conversation to hopefully exhaust long-simmering fires,
And a quiet ride home,
Her sleeping
And me thankful to have her along.

Truth is, she’s a lot like me,
Stubborn, opinionated, trusting, unforgiving, and
Prone to visiting art galleries alone,
But it’s nice to have a partner who can share moments
Like the joy of seeing huge dogs walking
Or sharing observations on how a father
Doesn’t portray stereotypical gym teacher traits,
Or maybe the way we feel the cosmic energies, mine random occurrences,
Hers, punishments from the unseen, maybe karma or comeuppance,
To shake a wagging tongue into a more proper way of talking.

I don’t know.

The day was something special,
My rambling, so much like Sally’s photos,
Pictures of time, maybe a little fuzzy,
Sometimes a product of manipulation,
Sometimes an unexpected gift from the angels,
But always full of the right light
Like a daughter and father just hanging together.

Father: I don’t know. I think it’s a little too jammy for me.

Son: Too jammy? Are you crazy. This is one of the best rock and roll albums of all time.

Father: Yeah, I hear you, but sometimes I don’t want twenty minute songs. Besides, the kind of blend together.

Son: You don’t concentrate. Duane Allman’s playing is ridiculous. Plus it’s live.

Father: I’ll give you Duane is great, but this isn’t even the best Filmore album.

Son: Name one that’s better.

Father: Derek and the Dominoes.

Son: Are you kidding? It borders on pop music. You could listen to the radio and hear those songs.

Father: What’s wrong with that? They jacked the songs up a little, but left you wanting more.

Son: Statesboro Blues is the greatest.

Father: Presence of the Lord…

Son: I don’t know, both are great. The Allman Brothers’ is just such an historical album.

Father: Yadda, yadda, yadda…

Son: Too jammy?… Next thing, you’ll be telling me that these aren’t even the best live albums.

Father: Well, 24-Nights does beat them both. And the one with Clapton and Steve Winwood is really good.

Son: Stop! You’re killing me.

Father: Some of those Jimmy Buffett live albums are good too.

Son: I’m done. You’ve officially lost your mind. Buffett will never be better than the Allman Brothers.

Father: And you’ll probably never realize that I’m pulling your chain.

Son: Seriously?

Father: Everything except the Allman Brothers being too jammy and which Filmore album is better.

Son: So you do think the Allman Brothers are better. I knew it.

Father: Nope. Miles Davis.

Son: Oh, boy…

Having a cop as a father
Was as close to privilege 
As I will ever be.
He got me into college football games,
He got me into college basketball games,
He got me jobs at concerts.
While my friends were hustling,
Selling those Pepsi’s and peanuts,
I was riding easy on the sidelines, 
Watching from the press box,
Or leaning on the stage
About as close to Sting as anyone could get.
Having a cop as a father
Was a lucky charm, like
When getting to baseball practice
Required too much speed for the sheriff
Or the William and Mary student snitches
Were out on a Saturday night.
While some kids were taking vacations
I was learning the value of integrity,
Although, sometimes the hard way
And in a manner that allowed
Me to see all sides of my choices,

Which may have been the greatest privilege of all.

She said, “You’re talking about prairie dogging.”

“Huh?”

“You know, it shows its head, but never comes out.”

“That’s pretty gross. You know, I’ve seen a prairie dog farm.”

“There’s such a thing?” she asked.

“Yeah, out in Texas. I saw it when I was a kid.”

“What’s it like?”

“Like whale watching without the water, boats, and whales.”

“Really, Dad?”

“Seriously. You stand there against a fence waiting for one to come out.”

“Prairie dogging,” she said with a wry smile.

An easy combination
Translated across time
Making for a cool father-son time
Of sharing an appreciation of
Music and togetherness.

I love these times
When we dig into the archives
And just chill with tunes,
Music being such an important part
Of who we are.

Me, the illiterate listener
Unable to play the notes,
But so in tune with the songs.
You, the budding maestro
Able to make the guitar sing.

We’re a nice combination,
Beyond our appreciation
For the tunes.
It’s our love of creating and the stories,
Like from this easy combination courtesy of CNSY.

Source: wikipedia

So I’ve been thinking a lot
Of what it means to be a father
And I’ll be damned if I can figure it out

I know you did it right

Instilling the right amount of fear
So I didn’t overly abuse my freedom
Letting me know ultimately the boss was at home

Those trips to stores
That seemed to last forever
Taught me how to be patient

Also passing a love for reading
Although I’ll leave the sci-fi all to you
The westerns too…

You did it right.

Putting up with my indiscretions
Corralling my hot headed side
And being there whenever I asked

So on this birthday
Know that I love you
And, hopefully, my young ones see your light in me

Happy Birthday, Dad