March 17, 2009

Lines My Father Left for Me
Thomas Sheehan

Crow a little bit when you’re in good luck;
Own up, pay up, and shut up when you lose.

Fishing is the great solace in sports. It’s for the mind,
not the hook. It’s the time when you measure wins

and losses in the truest angle of all, a slant of unbearably
beautiful sunlight through morning’s alder leaves, water’s

whisper of confidence on rocks you think you can hear
later in the night, the pointed miracle of a trout beating

you at his game, letting you know the wins and losses
do come and do pass by, even standing still.

It’s like the game of golf or the game of pool,
the green is highly coincident. And early in sports,

at the edge of my first failure, marked by the touch
of his hand on my shoulder: You come into this life

with two gifts, love and energy, and words and sports
are going to take both of them for all you’ve got.

I think his heart remembered a loss, his knees their pain.
When they took his leg off, the pain did not leave him.


Thomas Sheehan’s latest books are Brief Cases, Short Spans and From the Quickening. A collection of cowboy stories, Where the Cowboys Ride Forever, is now in the hands of a western publisher. His work has also appeared in many print and online publications. Sheehan has several Pushcart nominations and won the Georges Simenon Award. His web site is here.

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