In my twenties, my father
strode into my bedroom
shouting, Get up, get up.

Half-dressed, sprawled on my bed,
I was still high from a drinks party
and sure there was some emergency.

The chance to be a good son.
I formaled up quickly, coat and tie,
ready for anything. I waited by our hallway door.

Dressed now in pajamas, my father came out
of his bedroom upstairs and looked down at me.
Where are we going? I asked in my addle.
You are going to bed.
I woke you up to get you to get
yourself together for bed.

Late in his life, my father
took to calling me in the deep night.
Often high and with a problem.

I was no longer drinking.

Once, he called to ask
if I could come and get him, surprisingly,
at his office downtown, from which
he’d retired seven years before.


I was bone tired from working sober hard,
but felt another chance
to be the good son.

As I was girding up to go get him,
a fading martini recollection sent a suggestion.

I told my father: Go to the window
and tell me what you see.
He described not the downtown scene,

but the building across the street from his suburban house.
So I talked him into turning around, seeing his bed,
and lying down in it.

Neither of us ever spoke
of these two instances, never
to say I was the good son.


About the Author

Jay Carson’s poems have appeared in more than 100 local and national journals, magazines, and collections, including Alabama Literary Review. Connecticut Review, Courtship of Winds, Eclipse, Euphony, Hawai’i Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, The Louisville Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Nebo, The Penmen Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Two Cities Review, Vox Poetica, Willard & Maple, and Willow Review. His short stories have appeared in Barely South Review, Johnny America, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, moonShine Review, Storgy, The Tower Journal, and Umbrella Factory Magazine. A seventh-generation Pittsburgher, he taught creative writing, literature, and rhetoric at Robert Morris University. He has also published a poetry chapbook, Irish Coffee, with Coal Hill Review, and a longer book of his poetry, The Cinnamon of Desire, with Main Street Rag.