Join the Neopoet online poetry workshop and community to improve as a writer, meet fellow poets, and showcase your work. Sign up, submit your poetry, and get started.

No Tears for My Old Man

I'll cry for all the fathers on earth
but I won't cry for mine,
they may have been all saints or sinners
but they didn't hold me in their strong arms.

They didn't feed me,
send me to sleep or play me
with a ball and bat
but most of all
they didn't have me around - to get in their thinning hair.

They didn't absorb my resentful jibes
because they couldn't catch
or endure the scornful laughter
I gave when he was out of puff at ball.

They didn't laughingly beg me
when pushed to the edge of all endurance,
climbing up a steep hill to push me down on a bike
at the age of sixty something -
or plead "stop- please stop".
Then do it all again.

No I won't cry for my old man now
he's gone somewhere to rest
'cause my old man grew up with me as a
little brother pulling on his shirt
like a little goat

I could no more shed a tear for him
as I could a sunset or a cloud burst
he was a force, an emanation of love
that I don't think I'll ever see again.

I was his third family,
he had kids in their forties
but when it came to being a father he never retired
or cashed in his pension -
he just kept flying kites, throwing balls and talking science,
feeding me nuggets and popcorn in museums and vestibules.

No I won't cry for my old man
but maybe I'll shed a tear for all the others,
The one's that die too young,
the ones who wont see their kids grow,
find a place where they can live in dignity,
work with honesty and aspire to achieve.

Maybe I'll shed a tear for them instead.

Last few words: 
dedicated to lecturer Steven Augustus Stevens also known as SAS. Perhaps in the throes of loss I didn't do as good a job on this as I should have done . Here's a new version.
Editing stage: 


Comment removed,
as you seem to be perfect,
and beyond any comments,
Yours Yenti

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

How terribly sad . I'll let your comment speak for itself.

author comment

I find myself struggling against the structure which made my parsing of the piece disjointed and jarring on a composition rather than subject matter level.

Since you are not using a traditional form, you might want to dispense with traditional structure entirely and re-cast this work in a more natural flow. As an example:


I'll cry for all the fathers on earth
but I won't cry for mine,
[T]hey may have been
all saints or sinners
but they didn't hold me in their strong arms.


I corrected the capitalisation on line three because you are using punctuation.

Lastly, there are several appearances of "'cause" in this poem and, I admit, I associate the phrase with a juvenile point of reference and found it distracting here rather than adding anything to the flow or feel.

There is some good imagery in this story and I believe I understand your focus but the structure makes it difficult for me to read.


Jonathan Moore

Hmmm. I'll come back to it and consider this again. Any specific niggles apart from the repeated ;cause?

author comment


author comment

Last stanza Line 3 should read 'ones ' not "one's" you don't need the possissive 's' but a plural 's' without '


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words
........Robert Frost☺

Follow me

I agree with Pugilist about the structure being offsetting. I noticed and commented on this same thing on an earlier post of yours. I wonder if you are aiming for blank verse and that is the reason you go out of the way in trying to maintain lines of near equal length and sacrificing continuity of thought in each line to do so. Only one who can confirm or deny this is you I reckon lol.
"out of puff" now I really like that phrase. A plodder like me would have settled for out of wind. I also like the way you use prior marriages and children to illustrate that being a father is a neverending job. I have 2 grown sons and even so they are still my children. I expect you can easily take this poem and improve it with a bit more thought and work. Just as we can all improve our writing lol................stan

perection? Don't worry about it . No will ever achieve it. Neither will I. Thanks for your comment and suggestion all. As for spelling and punctuation - I am as badly educated and as near sighted as a sloth.

author comment

Stutter in the mouth of readers. When I aim for beauty of recitation then I do adhere to traditional structure but often I aim to make recitation difficult and less predictable forcing the reader to read at least twice - as in the stanza on the hill where an old man is climbing with a young boy and can barely breath. here i asked the reader to quicken the pace and fall over the words. Then there is the obvious reversal of accepted cliches like ball and bat that force the reader to reevaluate the stanza and find the pace within it. As for the occasional escaped inverted comma or full stop well they just escape through habit and though thankful for them being pointed out I dismiss any spelling lectures as mere nit picking. I write and transcribe and often have just a few minutes to do it so my fingers tend to fly through the poem adding what they will.
In this case the inclusion of the shortened "cause" " , wasn't meant to suggest a juvenile reciter it was just a practical decision to use just the one syllable. Where I am unhappy and no one pick up on it was the over use of "they.". which dulls and I think stifles the rest of the poems natural elegiac feel .
I wrote this for the family when SAS passed away and it was read by my elder brother on my behalf ( I was in Nigeria ) - so I wanted it to be simple and as honest as possible , his memorial service was very large and had academics and army people from his many incarnations over the years. The kicker stanza was put there to remind them all that we have a charmed life in the west but also to remind his army friends just how much harm they can do to other families.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

author comment
(c) No copyright is claimed by Neopoet to original member content.