Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Holiday Poem for Absentee Fathers

"It’s holiday time again
and many of you
are prying yourselves away
from your televisions
and your new families
(the ones with the children 
you chose to raise)
and you probably want to know
when everyone’s coming over
so you can have
your Norman Rockwell
complete with laughing happy children
a bountiful turkey
and genuine warmth.

as someone who sees
the everyday injuries
that your past indifference
hath wrought,
let me respectfully say:
stay the fuck away.

If your children are really little,
don’t get their hopes up
only to be gone for another
stretch of hopeless emptiness,

they don’t know any better.

If your kids are old enough to have
forgiven you in the hopes
that they’d be able to salvage
some kind of familial bond,
don’t exploit that optimism,
it just isn’t fair.

before you pick up that phone
to invite them over,
remember all the times
you didn’t call
or didn’t email
and treat this holiday
just like it was
any other day.

When you call
you reset their
Hope switch
and they become
little abandoned babies
all over again,
and it is cruel, indeed,
to keep abandoning the same
over and over again.

Those of us
who are married
to your daughters
(the ones you never
made the effort to know)
and who raise your children
(the ones you just won’t make
that weekly visit for),
we carry them past
the gaping holes,
the bombed out craters
your absence wrought,
which pockmark the landscape
of their precious
and hopeful hearts.

Don’t call on the holidays
because it only underscores
how infrequent
your contact with them will remain.

Don’t call on the holidays,
those are the pay-off days
for the family who see them through
the rest of the year,

through every nosebleed,
every disappointment,
everything, everyday.

Those of us who do
the everyday heavy lifting
find it galling
to have to "share" alternating
Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays
with the absentee father.

If you want
to keep your integrity,
stay the fuck away
this Thanksgiving and Christmas
just like you do
during the rest of the year.

Let your sons and daughters
have their day of thanksgiving
with the people
who really love them,
and take care of them
on the days that aren’t holidays.

After the holidays
then you can make contact,
and pick up that phone
ask them how they’re doing
console them when they’re down
tell them you love them

and keep making contact
and maybe by the time
the next holiday comes around
you will have earned


  1. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Ouchie! This hurts everywhere.

    1. Yes, when I wrote it I was the stepfather who cleaned up all the daily messes, with no small amount of resentment. I also wrote it for my kids. I could see all the collateral damage a parent's indifference causes.

  2. Bravo! The results of having hope crushed over and over again are long lived. Many thanks to all those who pick up the pieces.

  3. This sounds too true.. Only sharing the everyday chores you deserve those holidays.. you have to earn that joy.

  4. Whoa...! This is quite an intense poem..! I do agree that no one should be made to feel abandoned and unwanted! Well penned :)

  5. How impassioned - and rightly so!

  6. luv that stern voice; telling what must be said; absolutely luv this poem

    much love...

  7. Yes.
    AH, the whole damn poem is a quote. That has me intrigued.
    Love it. The holidays really are pay-off days for some, painful days for others. Argh.

  8. I adored my father. When I was in my late teens he remarried and moved across the country, rarely to be heard from again. Nonetheless, he saved my life when i was little, and I am forever grateful, despite how things went later.

  9. damn, Mosk, you speak the truth ~