Ping Pong With Dad

You never once hit a slam at me –
just quietly returned everything.

I would stay out late while you stayed awake
listening for the sound of my car door closing
– so little did I know.

On one of those nights that car got stolen.
There was no one to call for help – but you.
You could have brought a hard-hitting sermon
for the ride home –
but you didn’t.

In the sixties I longed to be a soldier
in the Radical Revolution
just like my friends, who I knew
were much smarter than you.

One day, I laid my principles on the line
at a high school near Notre Dame
to protest an outrage I read about in a flyer

and got arrested.

You wanted to talk to me.

The hammer was coming now.
I was ready, armed with catch phrases,
all in a crouch, alert for the lecture

which never came.

“When you are out of school, son,
you can save the world, if you want.
For now, while I’m paying the bills,
I would appreciate it a lot
if you would stay out of jail.”

An unhittable shot and you knew it.

Your next lob had a legal spin –
No stain of this sin would appear on my record
or be an issue in a job interview, ever.

In your old age now, you like to laugh
and repeat some things:

“Happiness is the sound of a car door closing
at three in the morning.”

Game. Set. Match.

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