Father Listens to the Artists

David Petruzelli

When I was eight months old, Jackson Pollock
stuck his hand in my crib and let me squeeze
one of his fingers. He was in my parents' kitchen
in Hoboken, where we lived for three years;
he said the new linoleum reminded him
of one of his paintings. Every time my mother
tells the story, she always adds, "this is true";
but my mother can't tell stories.
And my father has stopped remembering.
What never changes is my hand touching Pollock's
and who was watching; my parents and my father's
best friend from childhood—Nick Carone,
a painter who had brought along his famous pal
partly to show off, partly in the hope
Pollock would notice that the work my parents
loyally hung in our living room was Nick's.
But all Pollock cared about, my mother says,
was how much beer was left, how much money
Nick could con my father into giving them,
until the bottles on the table clinked happily
and the artists looked at each other
like lovers who had forgotten our world.
Then Nick placed his hands on my father's shoulders,
Pollock called over to my mother,
who had gone to my crib. Without looking up
she broke her train of baby talk to say goodbye,
but watched my father follow them out
into the hall and stand at the top of the stairs,
waiting as both men began the long walk down.
It's at this point my mother always stops to ask,
Do I remember we lived on the fifth floor?
And by now I've learned to answer, yes I do.
From Everyone Coming Toward You by David Petruzelli, published by Tupelo Press. Copyright © 2005 by David Petruzelli. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Tupelo Press.

Further Reading

Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
by Tony Hoagland
Joey Awake Now
by Glyn Maxwell
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Michael's Wine
by Sandra Alcosser
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio
Poems about Memories
A group of girls from Minnesota or black mascara
by Maureen Owen
A Violin at Dusk
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
by Carmen Giménez Smith
For My Grandmother's Perfume, Norell
by Nickole Brown
forgetting something
by Nick Flynn
Help Me to Salt, Help Me to Sorrow
by Judy Jordan
I shall forget you presently, my dear (Sonnet XI)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
In the Back Seat of History
by Mary Biddinger
Mississippi: Origins
by Anna Journey
by Li-Young Lee
by Trumbull Stickney
Mural with HUD Housing & School Bus (1980)
by Adrian Matejka
My Grandmother's Love Letters
by Hart Crane
No Ticket
by Jonathan Wells
by D. H. Lawrence
Remembered Light
by Clark Ashton Smith
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
The Parallel Cathedral
by Tom Sleigh
To My Best Friend's Big Sister
by Ross Gay