Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Letter to my son, five years gone

My friend Matt Mahady wrote this poem and sent it to me in 2010. Matt was born in 1972 and he died in the first week of 2016, of a heart attack. His son Sage died in 2005.

Hey champ
what's the news in your dimension? I got an invitation to write about you the other day from an old Gainesville friend he knew you when you were a little baby when me you and your mom were living in married housing scraping by on Pell Grant money and my part time job as a windowman staying together because we loved you even more than we hated each other and that's saying something (some day I would've told you the stories suffice to say we were children, so we acted like children)
anyway this invitation it shook my foundations upset my equilibrium like stirring up an iron pot of steaming gumbo and the liquid boils over and burns your fucking fingers but in the process you move what needs to be moved from the depths to the surface first I was disturbed and then I just put it on the back burner the way I put you on the back burner to survive not so much your memory but rather the memory of your death the horror of you blowing your fucking brains out on your mom and stepdads bed while they were at the gym and I was trying to call you not that I blame you you were in pain and this world is bullshit you were just a brave boy who knew too much too soon so don't think I'm not proud of you I always was and this didn't change that one iota
Whenever I wonder why you did what you did I remember how sensitive you were a child without skin this world this scheme of things as they call it the set up of this reality would have only gotten more and more and more excruciating and unbearable for you as time went on
and there aint no pill for that, lad believe me, I've tried them all this is just to say: I know how tiresome it all seemed to you I know how much you suffered scratch that, mini-me Truth is I knew but I did not know If I had had any real idea little man I would've done... what? I would've done something Shit I knew you were a moody kid but I didn't think the fault lines ran so deep
your mother loved you your father loved you your stepfather loved you she was responsible I was bohemian you got order and you got wonder
it was the best, I thought, of both worlds you had grandparents, friends, cool clothes and a PS2 you had all the material things I never had you were cool which at your age I never was part of me can't figure it out but the part of me that knows you knows it's that same part of me that knows that even though I was not guilty of your death that's not quite the same as being innocent you know I was going through some shit back then so I wasn't there for you in the way that I normally was in the way that you needed me to be I know I disappointed you more than once over those last 6 months and so really I blame myself for what happened the bottom line is: it was my job to protect you to keep you safe and I failed
the only thing I ever cared about in life more than my writing was being a good father to you was I a good father to you? You'll have to answer that question you're the only one who can my opinion? I suppose, yes, I was most of the time but not when it counted
anyway we've been over all this before the point of doing it all again is that now I'm going to put it in a public forum and label it poetry
I've been wrestling with the ethics of this ever since I realized I was going to do it usually when I write about you I only show it to a handful of people and the idea behind this is that you are sacred and therefore exempt from exploitation
every other experience in my life from painful break-ups to career implosions to random daily catastrophe I think to myself "hey, at least I can get a good poem out of this" I never wanted you to fall into that category you are too important you meant too much I didn't want to pimp your memory in this one thing in this one lousy fucking thing I wanted to not be a whore
on the other hand I'm compelled to share with the world how fucking special you were You were a unique and magical lifeform Who touched everyone you touched I was blessed by the gift of being your father I'd hate to let anyone forget you were the apex of my existence (my raison d etre if you'll allow me to be a douchebag about it)
“thought of you as my mounaintop thought of you as my peak thought of you as everything I had but couldn't keep”
And no one's ever seen me weep for you but I weep for you for a year after you died I'd squeeze the syringe and pray "God please kill me.... God, please kill me."
The grief was water It swamped my oars Until I washed up on the shores of strange and beautiful Moravia
Wish you were here, boy We would have had a real good time