Stains

I never forgot that day;
stars and stripes
flapped and whipped
above a California
grizzly, charged on white.
Ropes and pulleys clanging
like dull bells against
a tall steely mast.
Torn fragments of rain clouds
drifted across the sky;

I stared through
my teenage eyes.
We stood
In that damp grass field;
friends lit em up there
between classes;

They told me,
they just got to talking.
They said,
they were thinking about it
For quite a while;

โ€œWe were just noticing;
Your sister,
you said,
she was your half sister,
and your little brother
is he your little brother,
or your sisters son?
We just got to thinking
And noticed”;

delicate secret,
exposed from stygian hiding
left hand prying right
to see the hidden pearl
I took it back
and stuffed it
down where it belonged;
I hated that,
what they noticed…

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3 responses

    • Sandra, thanks so much, I am never finished with that poem. Seems every time I read the end, I feel as though it isn’t saying what it wants; It isn’t capturing the love, anger, humiliation, I felt in that moment and moments that lingered, the battle that I was thrown into and how my fathers decisions uniquely affected me. I loved him as deeply as I was hurt by him. I fearfully confronted him through my life about what he did, how he hurt and damaged futures for my brothers and sisters. My love for him regarding this particular sin, is strictly in the context how I understand Christ loves me; having said that; My father had a great sense of humor and great compassion for orphaned and under privileged kids, almost always favoring the underdog. I am sure this is how he looked back on his early life. That was most of the softness any of his children would see. My dad was often mistaken for the actor Lee Van Cleave, though stronger, more rustic, leathery. He was controlling, ultra regimented, ultra responsible, protective and hardcore strict. – especially with his boys. He hoped we would fulfill the legacy of his unfulfilled dreams — My father learned responsibility and survival at a very young age; Ats 8 years old, he sold papers in Manhattan beginning at 5AM and after school till late afternoon. His father died and his mother later married a man my father disliked as he drank often, and beat his mother often. At 13, my father came home after a long day of school and selling newspapers to find his step dad drunk and beating his mother, my father (then Siemore Reisler) hit and knocked his step dad down. His step dad chased him down the stairs, the street and down some tracks yelling “Seimore, if I catch you, your dead”. My dad never returned and after 6 months of hunger and odd jobs, he wound up in the Marines. He said he had a full beard and was able to fake being of age. – He was also a great athlete: boxer, football player and he wanted that for us boys. We were all real athletic and intelligent. My brother Brandon was a Who’s Who graduate on a national level rated with a 181 IQ. (another story) Our dad, as most dads, wanted better for us, but didn’t know how that worked other than by his experience of survival. In todays world, in any light social setting, my father would have been put away for what he did. I am not sure how he got away with it, but perhaps we would have all been worse off if he was put away. He was a great provider and took the responsibility of much on his shoulders. It all seems so strange to have come from that in this great country, but perhaps there are reasons we cannot know…

      On my fathers behalf, I understood his plight and sympathized with him. –My father’s father was a celebrity in his own right, in a not so good way; His father was John the Barber Reisler; Jack Dempsey’s first east coast manager, John was associated with mobsters and Broadway celebrities, John Reisler booked bets in addition to running a fancy Barbershop in Manhattan. A fight manager who cheated fighters of their purses. John the Barber was the first on the scene of the Rosenthal Murder in NYC in 1921. My dad, for the most part, was born, and his mother was dissed by John. John Reisler soon was hospitalized with an in grown hair that turned became infected and rather than lose his arm, he tried beating the gangrene out. John the Barber died in August of 1930. A year and a half after my dad was born. My dad was left with his bad name and all associated with it. I am sure my fathers step dad let him know who his father was often. My dad didn’t want anything to do with his father, his name, the legacy of his sins which followed him in the Brooklyn neighborhood he grew up in. When my father ran away, he changed his name to Jack Lawrence.

      My dad was a kid who ran into the arms of responsibility, always tried to do “rogue right” Funny how it works.

      My mother on the other hand was German Catholic who became a Christian and taught me the value of Love and forgiveness. I was much more forgiving than I was disciplined and responsible in my younger years. I almost became my fathers martyr, taking upon me the shame of his actions and protecting his public image in our local neighborhood, and at school for those who “noticed”. It took my fathers death in 2001 and more years after for me to find liberation from his strange way of controlling, showing love, his views – always justifying that totally wrong marriage by saying he was in love. – I continued to ask him to apologize and say it was wrong, even when he was on his dying bed.

      Our lives, our Journey’s are amazing when Christ puts them in perspective of Grace and light. What I have now, are jewels in my heart. I am grateful for the story Christ has been living through me. Yes, even to this day my life has been stained in profound ways because of that screwed up choice my father made. Yet, light through the stains, can be somewhat beautiful.

  1. Thanks so much for sharing, Reno. A glimpse into the very interesting mind of my new “friend” I have found on EDP. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really enjoy your poems and your comments. They are thought provoking as well as beautiful. Your story is amazing and intriguing..which I’m sure is easy for me to say. As I haven’t lived in your shoes. But as you said, our lives do dictate who we are. The good and bad, they grow our hearts into beautiful poetry..I’m so thankful you have learned to share. Someone on EDP said today, poetry is in our hearts, we just learn to release it..so very true. We bless others by our sharing. I’m thankful God has allowed me to overcome my fear of sharing. If it touches only one heart (my own even) by sharing, then it blesses me the writer..I am thankful also, that Jesus has revealed His love to you. That you know He is and has been working in your life. Blessings to you. Thank you again for sharing..I will follow your blog and look forward to your poems on EDP, also. ๐Ÿ™‚

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