Robert Joe Stout




Single Parent

 


Recurrent dream:

I’m pinned to a tree

grabbing at things

that I need

but can’t reach,

the kids

calling “Dad! Help me

dad, please . . . !”

                             I groan,

half-awake: fourth quarter,

Warriors and Knicks

still tied, eight minutes

to play, kids

finally asleep . . . .

                              then remember

a part on the toilet

won’t work,

the girls need . . . what?

tennis shoes?

ballet skirt?

call the school

about grades,

bagworms in the elms,

out of bread . . .

                          out of luck,

hard enough when there’s two,

but here it's just me . . .

                                      In the dream

I’m back on an Army base:

                                            my

uniform’s wrong,

haven’t bathed

haven’t shaved,

sarge’s spit

in my face

                 “All I can do!”

I shout myself

back to time-out

in the game:

                    Warriors ahead

 

but only by two . . .

                                Always a need

for school-party brownies,

rides to the pool,

makeup for plays.

I try to be cheerful,

help with their homework,

relax when day’s over

—sports channels

turned low—but awaken

to talk shows,

right hand asleep,

toilet flowing over,

no aspirin left

—and I never find out

the score.




Robert Joe Stout is a freelance journalist and currently resides in Oaxaca, Mexico. His essays, fiction and poetry appear in a wide variety of commercial and literary magazines.










                                    

 

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