Metaphor frustrates me. It has no limbs or limits,
and I have no idea where it came from. I’ve learned
the way for me to tell my father I love him is a game
of HORSE, but the hardest way to love him
is to witness his shooting percentage decline year
after year—today he missed three free throws and a scowl
with each, his gelatinous arms aching in effigy.
I wonder if everything has an ache to be something
more than what it is? If this is the basis of metaphor.
But now is not the time, Father. The poem is yours.
I want you to know that I have found the principle
of mean reversion as useful to me as all
the birds and the baselines and the little critiques
you give me tenderly about my jump shot.
What haunts me is not the end of our games
soon approaching, or the pain I’ll suffer when
you’re gone. Or even the fact that I’ll get over it
and revert to myself more or less. Wide-eyed,
knock-kneed, cow-licked—banished to my
seven-year-old sense of self—there is no
metaphor for how I feel. My mind, a blunt
instrument, bangs away at the universe we were,
and are, and will become. I cannot dent it.
John Fenlon Hogan lives in Virginia. His poems have appeared or will soon appear in 32 Poems, Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, and West Branch, among other journals.