Sometimes, the poem has a tenuous hold on memory.
And sanity.

I will not go mad while writing
this poem I will not go mad while
writing this poem I will not go
mad while writing this poem
I will not go

     The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm’d case

even when I write the words
     Father.
     Rage.
     Memory.

Sometimes a poem begins as a memory
you’d rather not have.

the cool pine presses against your back / you clutch
knees to chest / one-sided shouting tears of rage /
frustration / short-sleeved blue pajamas a race car
on the front / it is summer / the room is warm / you
shake bite your lower lip / not wanting to be found.

Or

A wrenching metallic sound.
A terrific crash echoes.
A front door slams.
An engine starts.
A family van drives away.

     Father, why hast thou forsaken me?

A quiet uncertainty that
     hangs in the air
          until he hears the door
     opening. The boy’s eyes
          wide with panic.

Or sometimes a poem begins,
     You were sitting on the porch / when the car pulled up
     in the drive

And then it ends,
     something spent that can’t be bought back.

Truth: My father was a teacher

     You stand at the blackboard, daddy, / In the picture I
     have of you

and once on the back of a blackboard
that leaned against the wall of my room
no doubt a remnant of his classroom
I crawled behind and wrote in lip balm

     My dad is mean.

over and over and over and over
my mother found it and
understood.