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2 years ago

Old Man With a Guitar

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,

An addict,

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,

Nothing more.

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.