MY FATHER, AS JACK NICHOLSON
A man who knows a pretty girl when he sees one, and he’s always seeing one. He reads waitresses’ tags, calls them their names. All down-home Daddy drawl. When he was young, this probably worked with some. Now they humour him. For some reason I want them to be spellbound, charmed, hot, as they listen to what he does and does not want.
For once, we sit in the crowd, the children
allowed to watch their father, the performer.
We’ve decided they’re old enough to see
you hang upside-down, fight for breath.
The Chinese Water Torture Cell! Torture
sells, no doubt about that. Your ankles
in stocks, you’re dipped down, the water
rising all around you. But your eyes
are clear, focused on the little ones so
they know you are going to be all right.
The curtain closes. I feel Greta stop breathing,
nudge her side so she’ll start again. Remember
what I said, sweetheart. It’s a show. I know.
When the curtains part, you’re wet
but out, and again, your eyes go right to them,
so they know contact was never really
broken. They love it, want to come back
tomorrow, and my heart sinks as I realize
why. Here, you looked at their faces, were
tethered to them, rather than rushing by.
With a start, I look down at the little ones,
see only the anesthetized faces of strangers.
EVERY GOOD BOY
Every good boy deserves fun. Every good boy deserves food. Every good boy
deserves a father. Every good boy deserves forgiveness. Boy, everybody’s
good. How did they get so good? Father says I’m good wood—when he’s in a
good mood. Good wood deserves food, fun, fudge, favours, fairy dust. Every
good boy deserves dessert. Everyboy wants. Even good ones would. God
wood. Even good boys desert fathers. Fairyblood, realbody, borrowed air,
float boy. Whoa. Am I being rood? Every good block of wood…I know I know
it, give me a minute.
Jennica Harper’s previous books of poetry are What It Feels Like for a Girl and The Octopus and Other Poems. In 2012,What It Feels Like for a Girl was published as an e-book for Kindle and Kobo, and was adapted into one-third of the critically acclaimed theatrical experience Initiation Trilogy at the Vancouver International Writers Festival (Marita Dachsel/Electric Company). Her poems have been awarded a Silver National Magazine Award, and have been twice selected for the Poetry in Transit project. Jennica lives in Vancouver, where she also writes for film and television.