Inheritance

for Robert Leroy Litzenberg (1928-1993)

My father was a Gemini.
To some that may serve or suffice
to explain him; and to deny
it as a factor is a lie.

For those signed twins are often twice
as hard to know or understand
compared to more singular signs,
and often this polarized land
leaves surefoots, like us Goats, unmanned —
that fate could have well been mine.

For we often failed to see things
eye to eye; his moods were fickle,
and lead to hot shouts and fist swings
then quickly bounced back, on cool springs.

I wouldn’t have bet a nickel
On the way he’d take awful news.

Sometimes it was good to be gone
or failing that, sickly and wan;
Either way, you’d end with a bruise
or a sore rear end to sit on.

But despite his faults (he had them)
and the years I hated his guts,
I realized he wasn’t dim;
so after school I worked for him,
tho’ that might seem to some quite nuts.

Because I’d never heard him lie,
or hold another man’s beliefs;
and not a single year went by
when he didn’t work hard, and try
to give us a chance for less grief
than he’d had growing to a man.

Of all the things he gave to me
so few are more than grains of sand,
or memories of a quick backhand,
except for his integrity.

03 SEP 2003

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