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in all the years
i’d never seen my old man
drink hard liquor before
tonight he’s had three
some jim beam fire that tastes like medicine
three fingers of three of them
and we are talking about death and cancer and death
the granddaughter and niece the court
will only let us see for four hours
the old man is talking
about his own mortality
how he didn’t want to do anything
for the ol’ prostate
but she made him, he says, pointing at my mother
who he’d already sent crying into the other room before
then he just sort of starts ranting about
how if it’s his time it’s his time
how there’s no point letting medicine keep you going
for what?
for what? he asks no one
the kind of bravado only possible
via three fingers of three drinks
watching him
i think about all of the times that i’ve been lit
how i’ve sat on couches and lain on beds
pointing and ranting at the gods
the poison of a thousand drinks
dulling the edges of my empathy
giving me a temporary out
of my own fears
like father like son
i watch him shake his finger and talk
until my wife gets up to leave the room
she might be the second person
that he’s made cry tonight
that’s when i tell him jesus christ, man,
i don’t think you can handle that shit
get him a glass of raspberry wine
the next time he asks
me for a refill
sit back with my own drink
wonder what great enlightenment
is coming my way

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