Dan's Drivel

Dan… a guy who likes to write | Drivel… nonsense | Dan’s Drivel… what readers will come across while perusing this site… enjoy –

Poems for My Parents

It was a moment –
a moment
from home, from the past.

I leaned back on the couch,
hands clasped
across my stomach
and dozed off to sleep.

My wife in the kitchen ironing,
Our younger son on the floor
in front of me drawing

the sounds of silence at work.

If I could have seen through closed eyelids
I’d have been able to see
my dad looking down at me.

At 5 foot 2 and 75
she stands straight and tall,
a pillar,
a woman I will always
raise my eyes to –

MY MOM, 75:
She greets each day with the promise of champagne,
a bubbling optimism that never seems to go flat.
While others debate glasses — half empty or half full — her bottle brims at all times;
the richest gold I’ve inherited the richest gold I ever wish my sons to possess

MY DAD, 81:
I walk a bit straighter as I take him by the arm
to help him down the stairs, knowing full well — a father myself —
the pride he must have felt as he reached down for my hand
when I was a little boy

“After the knee operation”

on the third try
she picks up,
the voice on the
other end
familiar but tired

it is the voice of
painkillers and
other assorted drugs

it is also the voice
of my mother, 68,
from her hospital bed

This is a pain in the butt,
I mean a pain in the knee

once again humbled
by her strength
and ability for humor
at such times

I wonder
, in my easy chair,
if in another lifetime
she might have been named

The couple
stands in awe
while facing Mayan ruins
and contemplating
the strength needed
to build them

Never pausing once
to marvel at
what they have built
and endured
on little more than a vow over fifty years ago

“You catch more flies
With honey than with vinegar,”

She always likes to say
And follows that with,

“You don’t learn how to swim
Till the water touches you ass.”

And that is how she has lived her life
Laughing and smiling and
Crossing that bridge
“When we get to it.”

And you know,
She has always gotten to it;
It has always been crossed.

And she has always gotten what she wants
Or at least always has seemed to
because for her,

“When life gives you lemons,”
She made lemonade.

Strange that the clichés I scoffed at
While growing up
Are ones I now adhere to
As I grow older

And I pass them on to
Friends, acquaintances, colleagues,
my sons.

A better man.


The hands that once
picked us up, held us up, put us back down
hands that toiled and taught,
carried that which meat must have
sometimes felt like the weight of the world

I watch those hands now
tremble beneath the weight of an empty cup
shake like falling leaves in the wind
and slowly turn to parchment.


Grandma told me stories. My mother did too… fabric of the past. My dad stitched his own yards threads that keep us all together. Sometimes late at night after dinner and a few drinks, my brother and I darn our own tales to fill in the holes of those no longer here.

And if we’re lucky, our kids stick around and sew these tattered tales into their suitcase of memories, toting them while still leaving space to weave their own patterns into this patchwork of the past that they will pass on as hand me downs to their kids.

Caught in a run-down at 67, my
dad’s head lolled back and forth
like an excited, playful dog;
he was tagged out.

It’s hard to believe that a man who
was kicked out of two different high
schools and never got his diploma is
now a deacon; that’s my dad.

On Sundays and other days, I like to play fight
on the bed with my two sons; my dad and I
did the same thing when I was young.
This is when I feel most like him.

I grew up in a truck, on softball fields,
warehouses, and in bowling alleys. I was
always at my dad’s side which might be
why I remember such times with fondness.

Perhaps the best thing
my dad ever did
was marry my mom.

A lefty, he slashed a double down
the right field line. Well, it would have been
a double if my dad wasn’t 67, overweight,
and sporting two titanium knees.

Sometimes my dad would come home
from unloading a boxcar on a freight train.
A huge box of various types of balls hoisted
on his shoulder. He said the box broke open.

My dad missed only one wrestling match
in my eleven years in that sport.
I can’t think of a match I remember more than that one.
Once I had to tell my dad
about a car accident I had; never
before had I seen a table jump so
high from being pounded on.

My dad and I sometimes still play this
strange game where I pull his chest hair
and he pulls the hair at the back of my neck
until one of us lets go.
We laugh so hard, refusing to relent.

How can a man so uneducated be
so open-minded, humble, and caring.
I often ask that of myself
when I think about my dad.

Listen, let me tell you something
about my dad. He is a simple, humble man,
and that has helped me to realize
the power of humility.

My dad had a try-out with the Cubs
when he was young.
They offered him a contract, but he was
too much of a momma’s boy to go.
As for me, I left home at 32.

My dad never laid a hand on me. Actually,
that’s not true. He always was willing
to give me a hug and a kiss, and
let me sit on his lap.

When people think of great men,
they often think of famous people
and historical giants. When I think of
great men, I first think of my dad.

My dad’s dad died at 16. His mom
died more than a few years later. I never
met either of them, and my dad
doesn’t talk about them much.

My dad still speaks in slightly broken English,
and his Chicago accent rings true to this day.
It pleases me that, though he wears a white collar,
he is still blue-collar.

My dad will be 78 by the time I
finish writing this sequence poem.
Let’s hope he’s not 79 or older
by the time I get it to him.

The only bad memory I have of my dad
is when he yelled at me after losing a
summer wrestling tournament.
He remembers it too, which makes me sad.

My dad and I don’t always agree on things;
religion in particular. Still, we can talk about it,
then both of us come around the table,
hug each other, and say, “I love you”.

I recall workday mornings.
My dad and I would sit at the table, drink coffee,
and talk about sports and Mike Royko. It was 5 am
and everything was dark except the kitchen.

In summer when I was young,
my dad would take me along on the truck.
We would make deliveries throughout the city.
It’s something how much one can learn by
sitting, watching, and listening.

If you look up the word hard worker
in the dictionary, you won’t find a picture
of my dad. That’s because that word
doesn’t show up in the dictionary.

Nowadays, when I talk
to my dad on the phone, I can
hear how old he is. I wonder if
he hears the same in me.

At times I hear my dad’s voice
in some of the things I say.
Likewise, in my gestures and
those of both of my sons.
It reminds me of how the wheel of life spins.

If there is one way that I am definitely like
my dad, it is that I love to take naps. And
as I slowly awaken, I lay, look up and
think about… how much I feel like him.

I’m not going to tell you my dad is smart,
or intelligent or educated.
But he is honest, hardworking,
humble, and sincere. And he always had time
for me when I was growing up.

When my dad gets up to preach, people listen,
not necessarily to what he says, but how he says it.
He speaks from the heart, not the head.
That is also how he lives.

My dad never drank or smoked or gambled.
But when he was young,
he burned with a desire to win at sports,
work hard on the job and be with his family.
I am the beneficiary of such ways.

Like my dad, I like to sing lines of songs
and make up words to different melodies.
I do this while dressing, while driving,
and sometimes while walking around. I’ve
even caught our older son doing it from time to time.

I am a family man, just like my dad. If nothing else,
I hope that when both my sons grow up and have a family,
they will feel the same way about
spending time with their wife and kids.

Dad, if you have gotten this far,
I can assure you I haven’t even begun
to scratch the surface as to how much
you mean to me and how much
you have shaped who I am.

It seems that every boy likes to watch his dad
while shaving and putting on cologne.
When my son looks up at me,
I think about my dad,
then apply more cream to hold on to the moment.

Someday, my dad will die. That is a fact. Someday,
I will die. That, too, is a fact. And someday,
my sons will die, which is also a fact.
But we and stories such as these
will live on through our children’s children.

My dad had me, his third child, when he was 35.
My wife and I had our first son when I was 35.
I hope that isn’t the only way in which I emulate him.

If I look at two mirrors facing each other,
I can see my dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s dad, and so on.
If I look in one mirror, I can only see myself
and aspects of my dad.

“Premature Inheritance”

The gestures are my dad
as is the way I sometimes speak
in broken unclear sentences
where half the story is left out.
The tactility, too, comes from him,
Hands and arms open and full of love

My mom bequeathed to me
optimism, a positive spirit, and a certain
que sera, sera that I’ve come close to
yet have never quite been able to parallel
in genuineness, which perhaps will come with age

These are gifts I’ve been given
These are gifts I share
sometimes knowingly, oftentimes not
They are part of me, part of who I am.

My mom, my dad –
and all who shaped them are, along with me,
all who shape my sons

At times I look at them and ask myself,
What part of me will they inherit
and pass on to their heirs?

“It’s Free Improv These Days”
I no longer call to talk to my dad –
His hearing is shot
His memory is full of holes
And his ability to follow a line of thought
Is increasingly decreasing
No, these days I call to hear his voice
Just listen to
its emotion and the sound for its own sake
Sometimes I prompt him
With something to let him know I’m there
Fully aware
That someday (ever sooner)
the music of his voice will stop.