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