Thursday, July 13, 2006

me thinks i see my father. Poems About Our Fathers. Glenn Cooper/ Michael Estabrook. ( Liquid Paper Press. PO BOX 4973 Austin, Texas. 78765. $6.

Having just completed a poetry collection about my late father “Wrestling With My Father,” I was interested to read this poetry chap “me thinks I see my father” by Glenn Cooper and Michael Estabrook. In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Hamlet utters the words: “ My father, methinks I see my father.” Just as the death of Hamlet’s father haunted Hamlet, death haunts these two poets.

Cooper’s late father seemed to be a hard man to love; with his flashes of anger, hard drinking, and fits of violence. And it seems that Cooper hasn’t escaped his father’s long shadow; a theme in his poem: “all right, dad, you win.”

incredibly, it won’t be so long
before I’ll be as old
as my father was
when he died. He may have been
an out of work, near-alcoholic
in the end, but at least he
had me and four other kids
to show for himself.
all I have is a large book and
record collection, incurable love
for a woman who doesn’t
love me back,
and these few

In many of Michael Estabrook’s poems there is regret on his part that he didn’t appreciate his dad enough when he was around. Estabook is haunted by his father while walking through Harvard Yard, pumping gas on a Saturday morning, or while nursing the wounds of his mid-life crisis. In “ December 2. 1999” Estabrook writes about his conversation with his brother concerning his father’s death.

“… But Todd and I,
like we do every year, talked about his being
Dad’s day; “ 36 years today. He’s been gone now
Longer than he was alive.” Yes I Know.”
We never used the word “dead”
when referring to Dad. Instead we say
he’s “gone” or “away” or something like that.

I’m not sure why, but I suspect
It’s because we really don’t consider him dead,
We can’t. We both know he’s alive still inside of us.

The physical bodies of our fathers die, but their spirit lingers on with their sons. Both poets resurrect their fathers and hopefully resurrect ours. Recommended.

Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update

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