Icy winds blew father kicking and screaming from a splintery dacha

in Kazakhstan to the badlands of Canarsie. He grew hard-wired tough

as a junk-yard mongrel, a king of a scrap-metal heap, crushing cars

between his teeth and crunching trucks like cellophane.

A rogue father, he raises his sons like cattle, feeding them straw,

wind and water, slamming them to the ground.

He told them where to stand or sit and when to move their bowels.

Chomping on a La Gloria Cubano, bullying hands shoved his wife away.

Mother viewed her boys as flowers she longed to cultivate,

but what can grow in a sunless garden? Her happiness was not to be.

Thwarted, no match for her husband’s demonic thunder she retreated,

whimpering softly into dark shadows on the wall.

All he valued was a Mercedes-Benz, the pinnacle of all his dreams.

He drove it back and forth as if he had just landed on the moon.

He barked at his sons demanding they become doctors or lawyers,

impatient to fill his rear view window with decals of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

When slow to do their homework he knocked the boys around like billiard balls.

The oldest wished to be an artist, but peevishly bent to father’s will, becoming

a doctor who hardly worked at all, devoting himself to his passion, creating

art for Burning Man.

The middle son, a tennis champ, hoped to become a pro, but gnashing his teeth,

caved into his father’s flaming tongue, resigned to days that never end in corporate law.

With a backhand no longer swift and quivering tendons in his forearm, he lived a life

of regret, smashing one racket after another into pieces on the tennis court.

The youngest son, mechanically inclined was destined to be a poor student,

no matter how hard his head was pounded. He volunteered to be the

household’s handyman to no avail. Father’s myopic vision failed to see his pain

and could never hear his plea: “There’s more to me than my SAT!”

The old man paid his youngest son’s way into the Ivy’s where he felt like an imposter.

Humiliated and forlorn he flunked out in a state of unbearable misery.

Father roared like a wounded lion when he found him in the bathroom

with the shower running, hanging from a well-made noose.

Milton P. Ehrlich