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.