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a father's knowledge

by Beth Pauli
When you finish your last swallow of
your "usual on the rocks",
look up from your table for the
waitress to bring you another,
I'll be there, watching.

Across the room with a smoke
in one hand and hot coffee in the other;
a book of verse open on the table in front of me.
My eyes will be fixed in your direction.

The band will start another set
of blues or jazz or 50's rock.
You'll tap your foot and try to
hum along with a tune you've
never heard.

You'll never remember this night,
and I'll never forget it.

You can stop now, daddy.
I think I've learned
what you have to teach:

to drown your worries
with a drink or two,
but more importantly,
to hate those that do.




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