Waiting for Green

I was a kid who hated his dad’s guts: shin-deep

I get the feeling of being kicked in the shins.-Rachel Talen, age 22

in our front lawn, shouldering a push-mower
through a growth shrub-thick, I knew inside
his lung a tumor grapefruit-sized was sprouting
quicker than crabgrass, swifter than
fire in straw. I’d wished it would not rain
on us again and Dad was dead already,
his grave’s weeds long as bamboo and still growing,
like hair in a closed coffin.

I love how this poem starts. With such a frank confession, the speaker immediately comes across as straightforward and honest. -Kyle austin, age 21

                                 Eight years later,
the day my parents met their only grandson,
I drove our Dodge in the last August heat
to the hardware store. There, my dad would buy
us three rotating fans for our cheap basement
apartment, whose few windows squinted into
a parking lot, My son, just six-weeks-old,
napped in his stuffy room. At a red light

Perhaps the red light symbolizes the roadblock he is facing in life. Later, the green light gives us a forward motion, moving on with life.-Rachel Talen, age 22

we watched a boy cutting a dry, brown yard:
Dad said, “I never thought I’d see this day”;
The light changed, and our lives moved on for years.
Now Mother and Dad are both dead. But I’ve learned
the urgency Dad felt about our blood.

Great change of feeling in the 2nd stanza. As the speaker’s feelings about his father change, so does the tone, from bitter and detached to warm, involved, and understanding. –Kyle Austin, age 21

Ten years ago a sheriff called—I raced
against the clock and blackness blooming
in Alabama where I sped to save
my son from a second night in juvenile jail
and from spring break’s stupidity. Lost, I turned wrong
onto a bumpy gravel path that took me past
some trailer homes with plastic sheets
for doors and slits for windows, dark and open

I can see how this would give an empty feeling. -Rachel Talen, age 22

as sockets whose eyes are gone. But they saw
my fear when I turned around. My headlights
flooded through their dead-end homes, like caskets

Like a deer in the headlights or a policeman shining his flashlight, we fear we are seeing something we’re not supposed to, something that is in hiding, or unknown. -Rachel Talen, age 22
He does such a good job at describing ordinary things -Amy Fleming, age 17

buried and blinding, wild woods. Soon after,
in an old red-brick building, I found him
at last, wide-eyed and wakened from his dreams
built on sand, miles and miles from Mobile’s sprawl
and the green lights we passed through on our long way home.

This stanza illustrates the last line of the previous stanza in action. The speaker, in experiencing fatherhood for himself, is finally able to understand more fully the actions of his own father. The last stanza seems like the speaker’s contemplation of how to avoid having a similar abrasive and divisive relationship with his son. –Kyle Austin, age 21
This poem is also extremely well written and very emotional. It brings to mind days I’ve despised my parents for some simple task I was required to perform. I think that once a child becomes a parent, a huge change takes place: caring for someone besides you. As usual, the language is beautiful. -Raegan Flikkema, age 16
The themes in the poem are incredible. From him wishing his dad dead, to his son meeting his dad, to his dad dying, to his son wishing him dead and him really understanding love for his son. - Amy Fleming, age 17

For my father and my son

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.