the man who got away

i don’t think of you as much as I should
but on this day, i do.
for i remember the one christmas we spent together
my brothers and me sitting in the back seat and you

i remember driving around the city in your mercedes
when you said you had to hand out the gifts
to the public servants who waited on street corners
sacks of rice in the trunk and stacks of hundred peso bills

i remember the smiles of gratitude on their faces,
of how proud i felt being your daughter then
you were the man i looked up to so much
how i wished we could do that all over again

but that was the only christmas we ever spent together
and the memories that remain are now so few
like the sound of your laughter and the sight of your smile
and how my whole world revolved around you.

merry christmas, daddy

So Much To Say

For the first time in a long time
I thought of you today
the second of my two fathers
there is so much I want to say –

you were the first man to believe in me
not because you wanted something back,
you stood by me when no one else did
even if it made you different from the pack

Even when you’d be ostracized,
set aside, and ignored
you stood by me no matter what,
even when there was no reward

And when I left, it was so sudden
I never really said good-bye
I always thought I’d see you again
I never thought that you’d die

The wind rustled the leaves outside
the day you breathed your last
though I was a thousand miles away from  you
it was your whisper of the past

of the days we danced to Broadway songs,
tuning that shortwave radio
to listen to a recipe about cookies
even when there was barely any audio

but we laughed through the static
we laughed with real smiles
you gave me my first real hug
you made so many things worthwhile

like that bond between stepfather and daughter
even if it came just a bit late,
but you arrived just in time
before bitterness would have turned to hate

I don’t really know why
I thought of you today,
but it was time that I did
for there was so much I wanted to say.

Daily Prompt: Outside Looking In

Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us OUTSIDE.


The thing about Daily Prompts that I discovered last year, is that they often feel like a knife that’s set to slice open one layer of me at a time.  Sometimes it comes out in poetry, like nonets, that don’t seem to say much because they’re meant to cover up more than they’re meant to reveal, and sometimes they’re prose, like this one, that’s meant to slice open an artery that’s been clogged up for so long with junk from the past, and left to bleed out till there’s nothing left.

When my father died last year, it was a quiet affair.  None of us went home to bury him, and though we weren’t there for the hasty memorial set up by his estranged second wife, we accidentally witnessed the filming of his body being pushed into the crematory oven, because someone posted it on Facebook without any privacy settings set up.

And through that glass that separated the crematory attendants from the friends and family I barely knew, I realized just what an outsider I was in my father’s life. An outsider when he was alive, and an outsider when he was dead.

I was always considered his favorite because I was the only girl, and they said he doted on me.  And maybe he did.  But when I was five, my parents separated and after that, I only saw him for one or two days at a time every Christmas and the two summers we spent with him and my stepmother.  He was always the busy businessman, taking care of everyone who came to him for help, giving them jobs, and money for food, and paying for their children’s education.  I adored him, and I loved him more than anything.

Then one day when I was about ten or eleven, I heard one of my friends talking about her father.  She talked about the piggy back rides he gave her, the hugs, the kisses – the constant presence of a father in a girl’s life.  But what stood out to me that day were those three words:  piggy back rides.

At that time, a father to me was a man who lived too far away, whose telegrams told me, ‘Wishing I was there for your birthday STOP love Daddy STOP,’ and whose voice I often swore I heard coming from the other side of the confessional box at the church – and the only reason I’d actually go to confession.  He was the man who handed out five crisp one-hundred peso bills when a hundred would have done nicely to a child, and whose visits later on would signal to friends that we were all about to have a grand time.

But piggy back rides….damn.

There were none of those things in my life then, and none to come.  But it represented the father who was never there,  one whom I believed should have been there for me when I needed someone to talk to, or someone to tell me that he still loved me, regardless of what I believed I must have done to cause his and my mother’s separation, and many other ills that often beset a young girl going through puberty surrounded by pedophiles masked as father figures so eager to listen because they know that no one is listening.  I know it’s a harsh thing to say, but this is what comes out of me, when unfiltered by false poetry.

So when the memorial was held, I saw one or two pictures that flashed onto the screen and none of them, I remember now, were of anything familiar to us.  There were children there, yes – but none of them were of us.  Or even of me, his favorite.

So even in death, I was still outside looking in, a daughter seeking for her father within.

Daily Prompt

Time’s Up

Dorkdaddy re-posted this question on his blog after reading this post from Fodder 4 Fathers.

If you could go back in time and tell your father one thing before he had kids, what would it be?

I learned about my father’s death when my cousin texted me her condolences on the morning of June 28th.  No one had told me that he had died hours earlier, around the time I had shut off my computer at 2 am and decided to call it a night.  The next morning, his body was cremated and shortly after that, the video of his cremation was posted on Facebook without any privacy settings set up.  The video would remain online for the next four days till the girl who posted it, well meaning with her intentions (I guess), finally did as my brother requested her to do days earlier, and removed it.

If I could step back in time so I could see my father alive one last time, preferably with my mother next to him during happier times, I’d tell him to work harder at his marriage and not give up, nor give in to the temptations around him.  I’d tell him that in doing so, he’d be able to spend more time with his three children who wanted only his time and not all the money that was easier to dispense.

I’d ask him to listen to his only girl who had no one to tell her troubles to, and not pay attention to the men and women who clung to him only because he had become wealthy and powerful, always with a hand out to ask for something from him, to ply him with more drink and compliments so they could milk him dry of everything till he had nothing to give, not even himself.

If I could go back in time and tell my father just one thing before he had us, I’d ask him to simply be there for us. Nothing more.  Because time is too short, and before we know it, our time here is done and we’re left with the memories of someone we barely knew.