Regular Poem: Evangelizing my drunk dad

23 Mar

Evangelizing my drunk dad
always proves a perennially
futile
fruitless
frustrating
endeavor.

But I’ve gotten better at it over the years.
Or
that is
it’s gotten less frustrating
less exasperating.
And I don’t go home and cry or anything.
(I think I did that once
probably.)

Evangelizing other people
(people who are sober and not my father)
is always so
delicate.
The Gospel slips in stealthily, diplomatically,
with a smile,
whispers
its Good News
and waits
prayerfully, quietly, patiently, lovingly.

But with my drunk dad
it’s a blunt machete,
a spray of cold water
from God’s garden hose,
and I’m standing there at the spigot
wielding it callously, casually, matter-of-factly
as though I’m just out watering the tomato plants.

It seems to last days, years–
this discussion–
and
it’s always the same discussion,
always his asking questions and then listening to the answers
and then forgetting the answers or misinterpreting the answers or deliberately ignoring the answers
and then asking the questions again in maybe new words, maybe the same exact words
and
I’m answering them both forthrightly and obtusely at once–
(I learned to discuss things from him, after all.)
answering with responses that are
half parables,
half truths so fantastic they seem to be lies,
half questions themselves.

And all the while I’m drinking
ice water
from a glass that is not a glass
but a small, chipped pitcher that–
in a former life–
dispensed cream to people who didn’t drink their coffee black.
And–unbeknownst to me–I’m using a Playboy as a coaster.
And he’s drinking
bourbon from a coffee cup with brass knuckles for a handle.
And we’re smoking cigarettes and staring at each other unblinkingly.

And all the while
he’s becoming drunker and drunker
(he was kind of sober when I arrived),
and I can see the lucidity receding from his eyes
(we’ve got the same eyes, by the way, deep blue and puffy and sad and smart)
receding into drunkenness and malapropisms and straight up nonsense.

And I was pleasant at first,
charming, funny, witty, bantering
glad to see this skinny old drunk dude with matted eyelashes
but now I’m
I don’t know
direct.
Hashing and rehashing and re-rehashing
the same questions and the same answers
has dulled my emotions and sharpened my tongue,
and I’ve got a headache starting to throb above my left eye.

(Later, after the ibuprofen has kicked in, I wonder
about the vague sensation
a headache leaves
when it is only partially a headache still–
a slight tingling and a sensation
it might start up again,
not unlike when you’ve had to pee for an hour
and afterward your bladder still kind of just feels
something,
something stretched and unpleasant yet refreshing,
or when you’ve just sneezed and your nose
is poised, alert, like it might happen again at any moment,
or that bouncy feeling
between hiccups
when you’re actually scared–
I mean frightened, terrified–
that the hiccups aren’t over,
and the feeling is nebulous, ominous, hazy, anxious.)

He references Genesis
and I roll my eyes
(because I gave him a book about it once and
I think he thinks
it impresses me that he actually read it)
and I reference Galatians and Acts and Romans
and he thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about
and I know he doesn’t know what he’s talking about
because he’s drunk and inaccurate and I know his theology is spotty at best.

He feels guilty for a lot of things.
And I should feel guilty for this
because I’m not as kind as I should be
when he–essentially–asks me to bring his chaos into order.
He talks me in circles, but
I know the radius
and I’ve got pi all calculated out, so
the geometry’s easy for me, and
I can connect all his tangents
into a straight line with the same negative slope
and predictable axes intercepts.

I’m not sure he really wants me to.

I suspect
he likes the questions better than the answers.
Surely by now
he knows the answers
and he knows me
and he knows what answers I’m going to give–
but he doesn’t want them.
Or
he doesn’t know how to let them be answers.

I think I evangelized him when he was sober once.
I think he got mad and condescending.

Honestly,
embarrassingly,
it’s easier when he’s drunk.
But–like I said before–
it remains futile.
But I do it anyway
because I’m not going to leave just because he’s drunk
(when would I ever see the dude if I did that?)

and if he asks me questions (even drunken ones) I’m not going to tell him lies.

And so I leave smelling like smoke,
feeling a vague sensation that it will happen again
the same way every time,
a familiar chorus, though the bridge might be different,
and the key has modulated.

And the band plays it again
because no one who gets tired of hearing the song
bought tickets to the concert.

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3 Responses to “Regular Poem: Evangelizing my drunk dad”

  1. silverscreenings 23 March 2013 at 9:04 AM #

    I read this twice. I love it.

    • TheBestofAlexandra 23 March 2013 at 5:49 PM #

      Thanks! I always think my poetic persona kind of is a jerk, but perhaps that’s pretty close to the truth.

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  1. Go Home, Dude, You’re Drunk | FanFiction Fridays - 5 April 2013

    […] Regular Poem: Evangelizing my drunk dad (thebestofalexandra.wordpress.com) […]

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