I was watching the Wrexham soccer team documentary and all of a sudden the episode turned into a thing about fathers and sons. They played Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" and, you know, it's a song about how you can make it through an apocalypse if you have the people you really love by you. We'd been eating dinner. I had a french fry in some ketchup and it just stayed there and my son reached across the couch and pat my leg, knowing I was thinking of my dad. 

When the episode was over, I went for a bath. Christina filled the tub for me while Jack and I cleaned up. Jack asked if he could hang out with me in the bathroom, strangely. I get in the tub and it is cold and I say so. Jack says she does that sometimes and that's why he tends to want to fill the tub himself, but hey, she wanted to do something nice for me. He was like making sure I didn't turn into a prick about it. He asks if he can turn off the lights and get the Alexa to play some music. When it's his turn to pick a song, he chooses Starman by David Bowie and then Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. He sings, off key, when he knows the words to some of the songs and it's horrible and lovely all at the same time. It's one of the nicest times I've ever had with him. And all by himself, at some point, he says, I'm tired and I'm gonna go to bed.

I swear some future version of my son possessed his younger self to give me some comfort tonight.
Thank you.


a Saturday
I woke up early and took 
the big plastic bag full of change
I found in my dad's house
after he died
to the supermarket
with the coin counting machine.
They take 20 per cent.

The coins were in
zip lock bags
a green cup
and two old McDonald's cups:
a Shawn Kemp Dream Team II
and an old Monopoly one
the contest sticker peel off
long gone from the side.

In one of the zip lock bags
I found a label maker printing
and it read Retirement on it.
Pretty sure that was from me.
Seemed my sort of shitty
sense of humor.

At customer service
I presented the receipt from the machine
for money
and played 2 more
Powerball and Mega Millions
for Papi.


I finally got to my drafting table
to clean up the bag of things 
I chose to bring
from my father's house
after he died.
I found what I'm certain
is a receipt
from the sort of side hustle lotteries
Latinos run alongside
the real lottery
and it had sevens everywhere
and he played it on my birthday.
I don't remember 
making that distinction
for this piece of paper
but I'm glad I kept it
and I hope I remember it
because it made me feel loved
and thought of by him
even though he is gone.

I guess this
is a receipt
for that receipt.

I put that and the other things
in 3 folders in my filing cabinet
and I labeled them

Under that
I found the nice things 
Chris sent me
and I will drink the booze
and I put his kind words
and urgings
in the folder labeled


I took my dad's big red truck
to get looked at by my mechanic uncle
in Hollywood.
The last time
I followed my dad driving it
he'd been in the hospital
a couple days.
He barely stayed
at night
in his lane on I95
and I got the expected
visions of a wrecked truck
at some point.
I got a sense 
of the muddy steering
while doing 75
the tires too big
or cheap.
It felt like I'd put on
a shoe too big for me.
The bench seat
wide open
my elbows far out to set on
the center console and door arm rest
me surely looking like 
a chicken about to flap out the window.
The driver door speaker did what it could
a functioning alcoholic
so I turned it down
drove in silence
listened for something broken.
When I got to my uncle's 
he put on the radio in his garage
and on 
the last song 
I heard my dad sing 
while sitting in my living room
an unlit cigar in his mouth
like a kid pretending to be an adult.
I can't decide
if it is a sweet
or bitter whisper
but I close my eyes and hold on
for just a second before
what the fucking my uncle
and as I drove home
I sang the two words
every so often
trying to hear 
my father in my head:
Hola Soledad.


Last weekend
I found
what seems to be a poem
in the nightstand
in the duplex my father stopped 
sleeping in a while back.
Blue ink in Spanish cursive
on both brown yellow sides
the blue lines faded.
I don't know if he wrote it
and I don't really understand it
as I transcribe
afraid I need to get it down digitally
before it explodes or something.

There are sections
10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60
and I don't know if these refer to age
or if he was just stylin'.
There's a note
at the bottom
instructing me to turn the page.
I want to love it
because I want writing from my father
But my father was so dry
and this is about
a river in Cuba.
So I worry my mother wrote this
and I am twisted
because I don't want 
to love anything
from my mother. 

So I type
digging out
untangling his script
looking words up to see if they match
what I believe to be the sentiment
this distant hum of a thing
scritching at the base of my brain
finding that he used 
and wrote of delivering hallelujahs
to a woman at the mouth of a river
or it's a metaphor
for drinking from her chalice.
I don't believe in gods
but damn it
I want to believe
my father
was a poet like me
though he never gave off
the lilt of lyricism
aside from the way
he sang Hola Soledad
a lament.

When I get to the part
about bitter years imprisoned
I know it has to be him.
I sob
and remember his simple response
when asking for a reason:

It ends with wondering
about the woman
and children
who would never bear his eyes, hair, or name
and a ghost who escapes a well
with something 
that was never his.
I know
this stupid lucky ghost.
He wanted his father's words
and got a poem.
I know this fucker well.


Southwest 8th Street and 40 Somethingth

I write this almost
a month later.
Everyone is saying
take your time.
How can anyone do that
as they walk
intentionally toward
a motherfucking land mine of tears.

The night before,
we had visitors in the room
Ismelia talking over my answers to her questions
repeating how she knew him
since he was a boy
me talking right back over her
just because I'm an asshole.
Jose doing his best
to be supportive of me
though I am a cunty contrarian 
right up to the end
of my father's life.
Saying how proud my father was
making sure to tell me 
he's there for me
but not to replace
my father
knowing the kind of shit
I look for
knowing what a piece of shit
I can be
when someone is trying to help me.

fucking talking
you're doing the right thing
though I find no power resides in me
to keep my father from going under
to right the left side of his face
to stuff the chuckle back into his mouth
when I say the docs say there's no fix for this
"No ay arreglo"
after the multiple brain hemorrhages
and the erratic heart rate.
How he shook his head
when I asked if he wanted them
to bring him back
when the heart attacks came.
These motherfuckers 
expected the heart attacks
like rain.
How he nodded when I asked
if he wanted to be comfortable
though I don't know
if he knew it meant
the dimming of the lights
or if I even had that conversation
or if I just said yes, please
make him comfortable.

I held his hand
as I spoke on the phone
to one of his buddies from the neighborhood
and I think maybe he waited
that he wanted to make sure 
those humble people knew.
These were his people
away from home. 
That taste of country Cuba.
I wasn't looking at him
and I felt his hand pull away a little
and I just knew.
I told the guy I had to go
and hung up
saw my dad take one last long breath
and just stop.
A single tear
crept down
from his closed right eye
and drowned all light
in my life
all the safety gone
no more Sprites in the late night
when my stomach went sideways
no more big red truck rolling into my swale
no more voice in the car
laughing at me
about being the family food delivery person.
And into the business of Death
I went.

Now I sit here in the air conditioner
ordering computer parts
writing this non poem
crying slow.
He sacrificed so much for me.
He gave up a relationship with a lady
because I was jealous of that woman
and he comforted me
saying hey her kid didn't want it either.
The last thing intelligible 
he said was hey careful driving home
because I drive like an asshole.
He suffered me so much
and I feel I am letting him down
with every interaction I have with my son.
I asked him, as that day went
and after
when his hand was cold.
I prayed
to my father
only Him
and to no made up motherfucking anythings
please please leave me your patience
tell me the trick
how do I shut the fuck up
Tell me, Titan.

He took care of everything a while back. 
I didn't have to find
a groupon for a funeral and a burial.
With the motorcycle cops
we took all the red lights on the way there
and Christina laughed, remarked
how he'd have gotten a kick out of it.
He wanted to be up high in a crypt
so people couldn't step on him
and animals couldn't shit on him.
I think he wanted to look down 
like this was a balcony
and he knew I liked the shade
so there's shade there.
I dread going back
looking up
I know where my god is:
Southwest 8th Street and 40 Somethingth.


It's a bit strange
and sad
how easy it is
for me
to put the death of my father
in a box in a far away
part of my mind.

The ease
with which I can speed myself there
to look at any of the many
items in the box
and be instantly broken
makes me wonder
if it means it's needed
to avoid being a monster
or something
and I think why
would drowning this way
be necessary
by design.