Advice for Dying Fathers (Contra Dylan Thomas)


Leaves cling, do not go gently, but go just

The same. The signal is yellow; the alive

Are always downcast before being cast down.

Look! The green team winning all summer

Is starting to lose badly, going bald in

The stunning radiation. New vine tendrils

Watch from a distance, still wet, uncommitted,

Literally on the fence. Some mock. Like Jesus

Or not, you must brace yourself, whisper to

Your God, your God (and your mother). Hold tight

To the wood, but nothing works. Nothing ever has.


Poem by Santi Tafarella, 2011


See this poem as a Wordle here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to Advice for Dying Fathers (Contra Dylan Thomas)

  1. solomondutch says:

    Strong words!! Thank you for posting it:-)

  2. Paradigm says:

    Not sure about the word “literally”. To me it suggests that your metaphor is not a metaphor. But overall I’m enviously impressed.

    • santitafarella says:

      Thank you for the kind encouragement, and I’ll think about the word literally. I thought I was being clever, but maybe it’s confusing.

      I was hanging out on Sunday with two poet friends, both of them talking about their poetry books in production with real presses and taunting me for why I haven’t been creatively writing lately. They have lives they juggle (spouses, ex-spouses, kids, work, etc), and still manage to write, so what about me?

      A bit chastened by the encounter, I managed to get up the next morning and squeeze the above eleven lines out of my bleak psyche. It’s rather nervy, mentally exhausting, and time-consuming, though. It’s a reminder why I don’t try to do it more. I had bad dreams last night.

      It wouldn’t hurt you to try some creative writing yourself (if you don’t do some already). It’s always courage-enducing to see others out on the tightrope, exposing themselves. The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti once wrote that “the poet is always risking absurdity over the heads of his audience.”

      Oh, and we got in an argument over who is the better poet: Wallace Stevens or William Carlos Williams. I’ve been reading Stevens lately and sided with Stevens against them.

      —Santi : )

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