My father,
Who was nothing at all,
Had to listen to everything twice
To understand.

My father,
Knew he was nothing at all.
Many things in life --
His father, his mother,
My mother his wife --
Convinced him of that.
It was my father's only conviction,
and if he had had a sense of humor
He'd have fought to the death on that:
His only conviction.

My father,
To understand,
Had to listen to everything twice
At least.
It wasn't just that he was stupid.
He was slow stupid.

It was one of the least of his virtues
That he never hurt anyone.
I doubt, if it weren't for my mother,
Anyone would have known he was alive.

She was his Ivy-What's-his-name,
And publicized him endlessly
With invective and lamentation.
I'd say she stripped him of his manhood
Had he had any.

I lived in the shadow
Of his shame and grew therein,
And talked to him, when I did,
Furtively and without honor.

O father,
O form without substance,
Without style
And inert
As dirt,
Or if you moved,
Moved like a worm,
When someone stepped on you
Neither of you knew it.