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Submitted on
May 27, 2012
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July 1st, the Saturday
before Independence Day at the hall.
My son wanted to buy fireworks
to play with at the children's fair.
Noon time came with its teacupped sunlight
and steaming table cloth of summer.
But still he sprang, feet clanging like cans
till I smiled at them, in their shoelaced glee.

All I wanted was a cool drink,
maybe a beer and a few magazines.
So we drove down to the supermarket,
bought a pack for twenty,
labeled, "Thousand-Stars!
You'll be seeing these for years to come!"

And I guess, what would have happened
If I had colored in the lines instead?

My son, now twenty, lives life with
a surly disposition. Quite
unlike the boy, who bought fireworks
with me at the supermarket
swimming in the summer breeze.

If you showed him a toy from childhood's
more innocent hours, he would slap it
right out of your hands, call you
an idiot.

And I admit
it was my fault.
But not some big
catastrophic mistake
that television dads do
all the time, the actual act
really nothing more than
an eventful fashioning on a
daytime cable network lineup.
Problem solved,
in half-hour time.

It was not like that.
You didn’t hate me then.

It was the small, uneventful tragedies.
The tiniest heartache.
Disappointments so small
it's inevitable
to see them pile slowly like used
matches in a browning bucket of water
that hasn't been changed
since last July.

And—
what if…

What if I played house, like I was supposed to?

Would he still sit next to me at my daughter's
Playskool Pret-Tea Pink Table?
Dressed up in her favorite pink gown,
a summer hat, and beads
twirling on his shoulder, this
little cross-dresser pouting
as I chortled coffee from a miniature doll cup
and braided hair, like I was
supposed to.

Suppose I was there for him
Suppose my father,
was there for me.

Would he have loved me like I loved my son?
Would he love me in twenty years, like my father never did?

In my mind, the two of you are one and the same,
the leather jacket, the hard eyes,
the shame you felt toward me
the only gay man in our family.

When evening comes, we'll sit on the hill.
Memories of his four-year-old self
trailing sparks like a glorious birthday cake,
all candles and balloons.

Together, we'll watch the display
light up the sky of the 4th of July.
Thousand-Star rockets blend
a memory of color
that I'll be seeing
even now in twenty years.
My son glowing red, white, and
blue-blackened
like sparklers
two weeks
into July.

I stand up watching him return
to his car, pass the parking lot,
drive away.
I stand up
on the same hill we once played.
(you and I)
The mother mirage
fading in like globed bursts
in the swiftly darkening sky.

I stand here, wondering
had I not defaulted
like a rocket without a fuse,
spinning wildly in the air,
feeling just barely out of control
shouldn't I just explode
?
in a haze of light and smoke.
Shouldn't I have been equipped to burn?

I stand alone
overlooking,
with you and many
on my mind,
overlooking
overlooking!
the beautiful wreckage of our lives.
Written with the theme of parental abandonment and love in mind. The character's roles and relations toward each other are meant to be ambiguous so as to establish a sense of disconnection towards time and the roles they were expected to play.

For critique I'd really like it if:

1) Point out any parts that don't make sense or need clarification.

2) Are the ideas conveyed effectively? Can you tell why the characters act the way they do? Is the story interesting?

3) What is your last impression of the piece? What do you think could improve the pacing of the story and its ending?

Thanks in advance to all feedback and critique. Your comments are the ones that make my stories better than they could have ever been alone.
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:icondailylitdeviations:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2012
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DailyLitDeviations and has been selected as our "Pick of the Day". It is featured in a news article here: [link] and on our main page.

Keep writing and keep creating.
Reply
:icontheglassiris:
TheGlassIris Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much!
Reply
:iconrussiantim:
RussianTim Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2012  Professional Writer
I'm going to try my best to answer these questions honestly and in the most helpful way possible. But first I just want to say that this is my favorite poem I have read from you. It's a different style then I am used to seeing you write in but you still retain your unique voice. It's a lot shorter too and feels honest. (even though you don't have a 20 year old son if your only 17) There is a vulnerability displayed here that often gets hidden deeper in your other pieces.

1) I think you are primarily talking about the speaker's son the whole time but I get confused when you bounce between saying "him" and "you". Is the "you" someone else? If so, maybe you could make that a little more clear. If not, then I would stick to just calling the son "him" or "my son" etc..

2) The general idea of a parent looking back on an innocent time in their child's life and juxtaposing it to the "dark" and distant man he seems to have become is done beautifully. The imagery of a small child playing with sparklers and watching fire works with his proud mother (I'm assuming its a mother's perspective based on the tea party stanza. Feel free to correct me if im wrong) really conquered up some emotions for me and I don't even have kids! I don't know if I can really understand why the son seems to not be happy like he once was but I can understand the nostalgia that the 4th of July created for Mom and the disappointment it also brings. It's a very interesting story.

3) Overall I thought it was incredibly impacting. I felt something reading this and I can't believe it hasn't had favorites yet. I thought the ending was perfect and the pacing was could. Like I said above...just clarify between you and he.

If it's alright with you, could I feature this in my group TowerArtists?
Reply
:icontheglassiris:
TheGlassIris Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Absolutely, yes you can definitely feature this if you want. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot coming from you. I'll take all of it into consideration when I improve this piece. :D
Reply
:iconjade-pandora:
jade-pandora Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2012
Why don't you open the option to invite critiques, that way *RussianTim could copy/paste his thoughtful comments as a critique which you could accept. His critique and your poem would get more exposure for others to see. :)
Reply
:icontheglassiris:
TheGlassIris Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not a premium member anymore. So I'd love to, but can't.
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