My Dad and Bowie
Do you remember a guy that’s been
is how one
of my dad’s favourite songs
starts off. I remember you telling me
that I wrote a lot about my mother
and never said a word about him.
But if I told you everything
the sordid details, like Bowie you’ll sing
Oh no, don’t say it’s true. So I’ll just
my nineteenth birthday
sent him a cupid from Trafalgar Square,
on a postcard on which I wrote I’m happy,
hope you’re happy too.
And when I was 15,
came back home and handed me
wad of crumpled-up banknotes,
he’d just won at the casino.
Time and again I tell myself / I’ll stay clean
tonight... Oh no, not again.
I’m sure you won’t
if I pass on the knife episode, will you?
And on the words shrieking, hitting, kick,
Ain’t got no money,
smoking, break, mess.
He wore jeans and leather, Drakkar Noir cologne,
a pompadour haircut, his father’s gold wrist watch.
to the song / they’re playing
on the radio, waltz to the Blue Danube on Sunday
afternoons, swing to Elvis’s “It’s
now or never,”
to the Platters’ “Exodus Song,” let’s sway to
I never done good things / I never done bad things.
I never had a better dance
partner. I always
about him in the past, but he’s still alive,
playing pétanque daily on a small town square
near Spain; the simplest game but in which,
with a knock of fate, the
layout of the hollow
balls and the players’ scores can change
dramatically, the way things capsize in life.
And my mother, well, I wrote her off
but that’s only because she killed
all sense of worth in
me. You said I wrote
lot about her while never saying a word
about him. But that’s because I know
nothing about her. I think she liked
to listen to Paul Anka. I once tampered with
her tape and ruined it.
She never forgave me.
I’m calling this
piece “My Dad and Bowie.”
If my dad came in installments, there would be
“My Dad and Elvis,”
“My Dad and Bob Marley,”
“My Dad and Otis
Dad and Diana Ross.”
on your red shoes. Funk to funky
but I think I’ve told you
enough about him for one poem.
(Tel Aviv, 12 February 2015)