If it is true that the sins of the father
Are visited on the sons,
Then everything is made clear.
You certainly committed the crime
Of squandering potential.
Even at the deepest points of your decline,
A native intelligence remained
That few had ever cared to notice.
The last of a particular school of man,
Born of the fifties and sixities,
A little rock 'n' roll, a little country.
You knew every practical skill of survivial
But couldn't apply any of them.
Like most drunks, you'd couldn't abide
Prosperity or love.
There was some essential ingredient
Missing in you.
Your loyalities were suspect or acoustic guitar course inconsistent,
And your sense of purpose
Was shadows and shambles.
Your sons were guided little
And the example that you set
Was fleeting and dubious at best.
The money was good,
The times were hysterical,
And the boys were accessories,
Now one is an imprisoned felon,
And the other one, your pride and joy,
Masturbates in the presence of children.
Is this your legacy?
Should I see this as your achievment
And is it part of my legacy
That I had once absolved you
Of any blame?
I have grown weary of these legacies,
Murderous, phantom memories
Assault me from every side.
I can see you now, worn-down, old before your time,
Hunched over a guitar
As your desperate, shaking hands
Plucked out a melody half-remembered
In a lurid, alcoholic mist.
You sang poorly,
But it was a voice of endless midnight alleys,
Eighty proof influenza tents,
A voice from the fringes of a world
You no longer knew.
I can see you still, old friend.
Some men are exhausted
By a tyranny of self,
Like inflamed stars streaking through the night.