Ashes of Him

It was years ago

When I last saw him—

The biological one.

He smoked Winston Reds.

He inhaled four packs

Everyday – I saw

Those bloody bearers

Of death. Each new

Addition to his ashtray

Corrupted and crushed

Out his fatherly love

As if the smoke and tar

Oozing into his lungs

Mirrored the secondhand

Thoughts clouding my young

Mind with blackened memories

Of family ties. A steady

Supply at the ready.

Waiting, waiting for

The sizzling, crackle,

And snap of his matches.

He never gave a damn

That his wispy fingers

Choked the life out

Of me—always clamped

Between his teeth or

Fingers. Those slim

Bone white cancer

Sticks and their angry

Red embers matched

The heat of his malignant

Fury when he screamed.

The sickly sweet sulfur

Smell picks at the wounds

He inflicted. Harsh,

Raspy shouts filled

With threats of something

To cry about and a

Closed fist raised to

Split a disobedient lip.

At thirteen, I learned

A valuable lesson

In self-preservation

And the selective

Disclosure of our

Truths. Hiding in

Plain sight waiting

For the right moment

To break free from

The suffocating rooms

Of his house—one day,

God willing, I hitched

A ride out of hell

After accusations

Of insane treason

Only he could defend

An infraction as

Miniscule as spilt milk.

I ran out the door

With a pocket full

Of his rage, stealing

One of his hateful packs

Along the way with no

Intention of ever looking

Back, on the road I

Destroyed that pack

Ceremoniously with a

Shiny silver savior

Named Zippo. I felt

The violent violet

Hatred ebb out into

The night’s tumultuous

Tides like a fading

Bruise after a backhand

Connecting to cheekbone.

I don’t know if his habits

Have changed, since

Those years buried in

The sand-filled ashcan of

Childhood retrospection,

But now I can breathe

Deep in the knowledge

That I am stronger

For being forged in

Fires that were not

Able to slay me.

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