Sunday, April 22, 2018


Between Belbedere and Clyed
The last days of his youth
Were coming to an end
He was born into a world of hard labor
The plow, the axe, and the crosscut saw
Were the tools by which
His family carved out a living
They migrated wherever
The next income could be made
The North Florida farmlands of Hilliard
To the snake-infested waterways
Of the Okefenokee Swamp
Cutting timber and growing crops
Were their way of life
Life was also lived
On the mean streets of North Jacksonville
Was where you went
When all other options were gone
His father grew up on these
Same streets delivering turpentine
From the forest surrounding the city
At the age of 14 in 1906
He would gear up mules
And make the journey alone
On a wagon
His overalls stained with sticky pinesap
With tobacco
With sweat
With dirt! 
Now his son
Was following his father’s footsteps
Work was not all that thrived in Riverview!
On the north side
When the sun went down
With his hair slicked back
His blue eyes sparkling in the streetlights
This young man
Would slip into the night
With his brothers and friends   
Going from honky tonks to juke joints
Anywhere a good time could be had!
When you were a child of The Great Depression
Had seen times so hard
Your parents boiled the seed
For planting that year’s crop
To feed your brothers and sister
To feed you!
Any happiness even if through recklessness
Was excepted
His way of living
On the edge of existences   
Was drifting away
Drifting toward a domestic life
Of a father
Of my father
On a Sunday afternoon in 1952
One last ride was taken
He and his Harley 74
With its
Suicide shift jutting upwards
Its 1200 CC motor winding out
The wind stinging his face
As he blasted through
Florida’s highway heat waves, and humidity
He hit the Main Street Bridge
On the north side of the city
At 100mph
Crossing over
From one life to another
From Harleys to house mortgages
From ‘42 Ford coupes
To station wagons
He would raise his kids
With only stories of the life he left behind
But the promise
That our lives
Would be better than the one he had lived!
The sun set on his wild ways
But rose every day for us
In the figure of our father!
His 82-year-old hands wrinkled and scared
Point here and there in the horizon
Telling me stories
About the places and people
That once were alive!
Yet he can’t find any trace
Of the world that surrounded his childhood
But the world he created for us will live on
For generations to come
All made by a man who was born into nothing
But was able to give us everything