Come to think of it, I never speak of Mom
much now, though I go on and on about Dad.
My generation's given "Mom" a beating,
I think: there's no son who hasn't got his gun
out for the old dear—the dear in the headlights!
Think it could be, like, you know, like...Freud?

Speaking of beatings, who's taken more than Freud,
lately? From the belly of "The Beast," not Mom's:
Shtand ze kike against zer vall! Aim ze headlights...
But why beat Freud instead of dear old Dad?
Dad's the one who's always pulling out his gun,
longing to give someone a "Christian" beating!

Freud got a few things wrong—that's worth a beating?
Let's whack some Christians instead of poor Freud.
It's clear they understand about "The Gun" –
but what about "The Cave?" No, no, not Mom's—
and let's not even go there about Dad's.
Their zeitgeist is a scramble toward headlights—

figures projected on a wall by headlights—
then, once there, instituting someone's beating.
How do you break it to your "real-life" Dad
that twenty centuries of this schadenfreude
are too much? That this smokescreen called "Mom"
just hides the cave of God-Our-Daddy's gun?

They co-opt Jesus into their hired gun—
that rabble-rousing Jewish kid, with head lice—
then claim he cut this strange deal with his Mom?
And he'll return—to give the "sons" a beating?
No wonder we're devouring poor old Freud!
We'll swallow any tale "revealed" by "Dad."

"I can sell you anything!" My own dad
points his shaking finger like a gun
at me. He wonders who the hell is Freud;
he winks and elbows me about "headlights."
His diaper leaks. His pride takes a beating.
I shoo him off to Florida with "Mom."

Amerika: a graveyard, a Mom-and-Dad
beating. Whistle past. Switch on your headlights.
A gun can be a gun, even for Freud.

From The Best American Poetry 2009 edited by David Wagoner and David Lehman. Copyright © 2009 by James Cummins. First printed in The Antioch Review. Used by permission of Scribner.