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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 23, 2016.
About this Poem 

“My father dressed in conformity with his conservative views. The neckties I loved to gaze at were a kind of hidden wealth, like the dazzling color plates in The Arabian Nights, a book he’d given me. He was generous and repressive, sensuous and puritanical, encouraging and frightening. Time has deepened my sense of his complexity—whatever I think I know of others, much remains a mystery.”
—Joan Larkin

My Father’s Tie Rack

Back of the door to his dark closet,
eye height, with clever steel
pegs I could flip both ways.
A row of pendulums. Of tongues.
Words, wordless. Witnesses
waiting to be sworn. The town secret.
A silk body, a man's plenty.
A wild ache, a knot. One painted
with gold mums, one with blood
leaves on mud. Vishnu's skin, twenty
shades of sky. White flag iris.
Slick sheen of a greenblack snake.
Which one went with him into the hole?
Somewhere else: his belts.

Copyright © 2016 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joan Larkin

Joan Larkin

Born in Massachusetts in 1939, Joan Larkin is the 2011 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

by this poet

poem
In barlight alchemized: gold pate, the bellmouth
tenor, liquor trapped in a glass. The e-flat
clarinet chases time, strings shudder,
remembering the hundred tongues. Here comes old
snakeshine, scrolls stored in the well, here comes
the sobbing chazzan. O my lucky uncle,
you've escaped the Czar's army. Thunder
is
2
poem

 

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2
poem
I’m older than my father when he turned
bright gold and left his body with its used-up liver
in the Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain.  I don’t 
believe in the afterlife, don’t know where he is 
now his flesh has finished rotting from his long 
bones in the Jewish Cemetery—he could be the only 
convert under