My father knows the proper way 
   The nation should be run; 
He tells us children every day 
   Just what should now be done. 
He knows the way to fix the trusts, 
   He has a simple plan; 
But if the furnace needs repairs, 
   We have to hire a man. 


My father, in a day or two 
   Could land big thieves in jail; 
There's nothing that he cannot do, 
   He knows no word like "fail." 
"Our confidence" he would restore, 
   Of that there is no doubt; 
But if there is a chair to mend, 
   We have to send it out. 


All public questions that arise, 
   He settles on the spot; 
He waits not till the tumult dies, 
   But grabs it while it's hot. 
In matters of finance he can 
   Tell Congress what to do; 
But, O, he finds it hard to meet 
   His bills as they fall due. 


It almost makes him sick to read 
   The things law-makers say; 
Why, father's just the man they need, 
   He never goes astray. 
All wars he'd very quickly end, 
   As fast as I can write it; 
But when a neighbor starts a fuss, 
   'Tis mother has to fight it. 


In conversation father can 
   Do many wondrous things; 
He's built upon a wiser plan 
   Than presidents or kings. 
He knows the ins and outs of each 
   And every deep transaction; 
We look to him for theories, 
   But look to ma for action.

This poem is in the public domain.


All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joys attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
But with death's parting blow are sure to meet.
The sentence past is most irrevocable,
A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.
How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
That when the knot's untied that made us one,
I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
And if I see not half my days that's due,
What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
The many faults that well you know I have
Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
If any worth or virtue were in me,
Let that live freshly in thy memory
And when thou feel'st no grief, as I no harmes,
Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms,
And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
And if thou love thyself, or loved'st me,
These O protect from stepdame's injury.
And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
With some sad sighs honor my absent hearse;
And kiss this paper for thy dear love's sake, 
Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

1

I witnessed nothing
to speak of because
we were Free.

My life at four was the same
as at three. Then whispers wound
into my ears, or,

Father never whispered–
he gave me fire to breathe–
all the oxygen lit the room,

burning me up until my breath
writhed in the body’s drum.
Nothing changed but my mind.

 

2

I have a sense of him having said–
to Mother? a Soldier?–
something, but recall

none of the words,
only a sentence ending,
susurrous, in a hiss.

I froze. Put together
the words were menacing, sneak-
attacks, after which fear

riddled me day and night
like bullets. I have never not lived
with the fact of having heard,

 

3

the tear in me trauma
rent when I secreted
zero at the bone.

Father was high up–I never got
his echelon straight before the war
was over–but he was someone

who knew things
done to whom by whom
and when I snuck to the door

to listen the sound words
made was lightning flashed
right into my skull.

Originally published in Shenandoah. Copyright © 2019 by Cynthia Hogue. Used with the permission of the poet.