He wasn’t much of a father, but he was the family lyricist. He once described himself as sitting beneath “the dangling dick of destiny.”
Another time, speaking of my mother, he said, “The problem with Catholic women is that, when they get old, they become all priest infested.” This was followed by a shudder that, given his farmer roots, spoke to an intimate knowledge of infestation.
He had memorized the entire Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. On his deathbed, he recited from memory the whole of Bryant’s Thanitopsis.
He was a lousy father, a drunk and a wife beater. That said, the first memory I have of poetry is sitting on his knee while he read to me The Cremation Of Sam McGee.
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
Where the men moil for gold …
I can still recite it …