Happy Father’s Day

Alfred J. Stern 1906 -1968

How strong you looked standing in the shower,
with your barrel chest, your solid body, your big purple cock.
How weak and boyish I felt, with my puny body and toy weeny.
How ashamed I was when you laughed at my chicken breasts.
How trivial I felt.

But that was before I knew of your pain. Your isolation. Your failed dreams.
You were like a god. A gladiator. Invincible.
The hair on your arms was like a bear.
When you kissed me, your face rasped like a file.
How I felt I disappointed you. I was only a boy, worse, a mama’s boy.
When you didn’t talk to me, I knew it was my weakness.
But that was before I knew of your isolation. Your failed dreams.

I felt you didn’t protect me, because I wasn’t worth protecting.
Didn’t include me because I wouldn’t ever be a man.

But that was before I knew of your failed dreams.
How hard it must have been. Looking like a man outside.
Being afraid to even see your own fear.

I know. I have tried to hide my fear. I have been afraid to look weak.
Trying to show only strength. Thinking I have none. Thinking I am lying.
How lonely it must have felt. Hoarding those fears. Feeling you are alone.
Knowing only your own self loathing. Rejecting your own pain. Your own imperfection.

I know. I’ve lived in my own nest of self hate.
I’ve lived without accepting myself enough to look inside.
I’ve lived alone. Hiding. Afraid.

How weak you were. How afraid. How hard it must have been to pass on your strength. Your teaching.
I love you, Daddy. For your gifts. Fear, isolation, strength. The insight to know the difference.
I love you for your sacrifices.

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