The Muse of Immediacy convinced me to just let this one go, regardless that it seems to be of two minds.
A Ballad about Boys: For My Daughter
Movement One: Genesis
Dear Michael and Henry
Dear Lee and Brandon and Scott
Hey, Andy and Barron, Tommy and Richard
And the fifth-grade boy whose name I’ve forgot.
Dear Chris and Joel, Donnie and Arnold
and Nathan, Josh, Ngugi, and Scott
Oh, Jud and Sean and Paul and Carl
and Jason, with the shipload of those who loved me not:
I am sorry
We inflicted our needs and fears upon each other
To dislodge the tears again,
Second Movement: Tragedy*
But you, Larry, you were a jerk, it’s true.
I’ll bet you were handsy on the court, too.
And Buddy. Long-legged, proud-jean’d interloper,
hips thrusting desks at girl-shaped spaces. I’ll not forget you.
Then Kevin. Where to begin. Boy, do you have problems! (Of this, I’m sure.)
You must know by now—or someone’s law has taught you (if my kicks did not):
Women and girls don’t deserve to be thrown on the floor.
Third Movement: Triumph
Dear Daughter, now you—
An agnostic’s angel:
Please know: there are a few
good men, good people, left
on this heaving blue dot yet.
Someday I’ll remind you (when you need it)
how your father and I met.
It might take awhile,
far more sobs and fissures, perhaps,
than kisses and adamantine bonds,
but when you find someone
(not the only one, but your only one),
I will hope that, for you,
the path has been worth
The falls forging you.
Firm as diamond,
steadfast as stars.
As if you’d just been standing, shining
*Names deliberately not changed to protect arseholes. If you don’t want to be written about, don’t assault people! Simple enough, right?