‘Father and Son’ and Other Poetry by Reid McGrath The Society January 19, 2016 Culture, Poetry 2 Comments Father and Son I. The Modern Daedalus I want you to carry yourself with pride: Stand up straight, with your shoulders back; don’t slouch; and yet, also, don’t let hubris deride you. Be humble. Get off that cushy couch I only could afford by working hard, from the ground up. Now come into my shop. We’ll woodwork, weld; go out into the yard: You’ll get a dead-car running, hear it pop. Shake hands firm; the respect of men you’ll earn. Paint with care, clean your brushes in the sink. Help me plumb, solder, shingle the roof, learn to like learning: Math, Science, etc.. Think for yourself; but know you don’t know it all. Otherwise, son, eventually you’ll fall. II. The Modern Icarus I need to do it my way. I am proud of him, a lot; he’s like a Superdad. He’s so well-rounded; skills in him abound which none of my buddies’ fathers have had. And yet, what is it about his shadow that makes me want to rise up above it? Is it a son thing? a human thing? Go higher, faster, farther; I don’t love it. It’s capitalistic: beating one’s dad. It’s stupidly progressive; it’s insane; and yet it’s in me. I have got it bad. This social instinct or my pride must wane. For when he tells me to slow down or die, some perverse imp decides I ought to fly. The Givers We thought the joy resided in each gift received beneath resplendent evergreens bestrewn with silver tinsel, ornaments suspended with gold sequins, angels preened. Voraciously (while children ached in huts), we’d tear the wrapping like greed-blinded squirrels shucking the shells of indehiscent nuts while knowing parents hid us from the world. We’re older now, more generous and glad to sit back smiling, watching others lift a special something we picked out or made, slightly embarrassed when we get a gift: knowing already we have more than most. The true joy is in giving like a host. The Organ Harvester (The transplant surgeon tasked with murdering innocent Falun Gong practitioners for their organs.) I am the reaper black and red with blood which sticks like chaff to sweat. I use my scythe on breathing dead. It is a scalpel sharp and wet. I labor in the killing fields. I work with deadpanned doctors frank to see what vivisection yields. We are employed by organ banks. Sometimes I take my mind off it and picture fragrant fields that sway; where a horse whinnies at the bit and we are merely mowing hay— Or mining rubies in the dirt… I pluck out hearts and livers live It is no use; I cannot skirt the bloody truth— O try! Contrive some sound excuse for things you do: It is a sort of social fête. Our government I cannot rue the Mayans or the Aztecs ate these very organs. Their dumb slaves were sacrificed to fictive gods. What animals? The vision laves my guilt. We’re plucking peas from pods. I help so many other folks who are not guilty of misdeeds. The Falun Gong who wear the yokes are to these better plants, the weeds. They should be plucked and shaken, used before they march to their demise. I do not care if they’re abused. I do not look them in the eyes. I am the reaper black and red. There is no god or souls: I’m told. There is Social Progress instead. One sheep is not worth all the fold. Reid McGrath is a poet living in the Hudson Valley of New York. Featured Image: “Daedalus and Icarus,” 1625, by Orazio Riminaldi (1593-1660). Wadsworth Museum of Art, Hartforth. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 2 Responses Mike Ellwood January 20, 2016 Very impressed with ‘Father and Son’ in particular. Reads well, the clever rhymes and iambic rhythm unobtrusive. I enjoy finding contemporary significance in classical literature. Reply Reid McGrath January 20, 2016 Thanks, Mike. The pitch of the “Father and Son” poem was meant to be very conversational, almost as if it were to be acted out, or recited in a play. Visually, architectonically, they are not my favorite poems. But they are some of my favorite poems to recite. So I am glad you enjoyed them too. BTW: “perverse imp” is an allusion to an Edgar Allan Poe short story (somewhat of an essay) called “The Imp of the Perverse.” I meant to include a footnote in there. Cheers. RM. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.