He’d already

been hanging around

far too long,

according to him.

unclaimed victim

of a coronary

at fifty,

maybe sixty,

perhaps seventy…

well okay then.

 

Now he just sat

sulked

an old soldier who

missed his date

with destiny.

 

He’d never been

wrong about anything

as far back

as I can remember,

I too believed in

the gospel according to dad,

until I turned ten

started asking

questions.

 

I learned

questions were not

looked upon

favorably

everything I believed

was not constant,

or true

not set in stone.

 

Two plus two

is five.

 

When we grow up

start asking

parents

questioning

philosophical arguments

never solved

or resolved.

 

Different ideas

ideologies

different worlds

separated

by decades

technology.

 

He yelled

points like hammers

spikes

crucifying

any who disagreed,

barking you down

as best he could

on his home turf

dismissing

anything

not his creation.

 

That last lecture was

similar.

I had new skills,

though I still gave

respect comes

being raised

on a generous helpings

humiliation

and fear,

 

but something was

different.

We talked

argued as always

I slipped

parried.

anger rose

fell.

I knew him

an old fellow

opponent.

I knew his ways

from old days

we argued

we also spoke.

 

I saw words

getting through.

I saw words

penetrating battlements

of anger

timeless narcissistic righteousness

everything you say is wrong.

I saw words

getting through

where never before.

 

This old dog

I knew his bark.

I knew his bite,

but the bark was

always worse.

 

His bark was

humiliating

dehumanizing.

Manipulating

wrought

with horrible anecdotes

broke confidence

tore hearts asunder.

 

Yes, I knew that bark

and I had learned

some of my own.

 

This was

tricky,

but this was

dialogue.

I saw a tender spot

an opening

so I asked another

hard question.

 

Ones you don’t dare

ask in the house,

his house,

his territory.

one of those questions

that one answer,

I was wrong,

I’m sorry.

 

He folded.

His head went down

contemplation

acceptance

I waited for an answer.

 

Then suddenly he reared.

He saw where he was

how he had gotten here

and rather than acquiesce

to a lesser person

he rose up.

He lashed out

began to bark.

 

The bark came with

familiar fury

brimstone

I had grown up with,

but I knew now.

demeaning

wrought

with worthless put downs

and suddenly

something different occurred.

 

I felt it.

I had felt it before,

but had never released it.

I was not

one to be put down.

Suddenly I swelled.

 

swelling

I found my voice,

my bark,

my utterance

that came

with the confidence

of fed up

done

and “I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!”

 

And just like that,

I saw the beast

shrink

I realized

he had been frightened

all along.

I realized

this was his way

his only way

to keep himself above

everyone else.

 

I saw his tail tuck

he walked away

muttering,

two plus two is five.

 

I found myself

that day.

discovered something

he had taken away

and hidden,

after my bark

I found myself

standing

taller.

I stood

more assured

I walked away

on my own two legs.

had broken free.

 

It didn’t change

anything.

Eventually

he was right again.

 

If you assume

Every day is your last,

one day it will be.

that stubborn

son of a bitch

out-lived them all,

just as I knew he would.

 

He never took

the gift

opportunity of time

he was given

to appease

himself

those around him.

 

He went on,

muttering

two plus two

is five,

right up until

the day he died.

 

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