Those familiar hands
are thick, flecked with sun kisses,
old paint and careless scars;
nails blunt each finger with sturdy short caps,
just a little jagged and dirty.

One grips the pencil as the paintbrush,
necessary tools,
covering the paper with thoughts and figures,
indecipherable to most.
The other rubs over the bald head,
first scratching above the ear, rubbing the dome,
then sliding down to rest on the thick neck.

For us it is past the gates
of tallest pines on to a cloud of bluebonnets–
green, blue with hints of pink–beneath
a wizened oak where mockingbirds
echo seraph songs.

I speak heartily
for the work of his hands deafens him,
“When you get to heaven, will you still do math problems
even though you’ll know all the answers?”

He glances up with his pencil and a quick smile,
“Ah good, you’re here.
Come here and let me show you something.
This problem’s new.”


Info on writing prompt

About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in Photo, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Dad

  1. whimsygizmo says:

    This is just wonderful. I want to meet him.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      He would have loved to meet you. My dad could and would talk to anyone. We used to go back in to restaurants and get him, saving whomever he was talking to, just so we could go home. He was a teacher at heart and was always sharing something with someone. He passed away ten years ago. I miss him every day. Thank you for sharing my poem with me.

  2. Heaven says:

    My first time to read this… such a lovely tribute to his memory. He comes alive in your words ~

    Thanks for sharing this ~

  3. Shawna says:

    This just makes me smile. 🙂 Loved the head-rubbing section. I can totally picture his method.

  4. Brendan says:

    What a fine tribute to your father – so intimate, catching so deftly the man’s mind and its surfaces. The second stanza gives us the faintest sight of heaven — or the afterlife — in so-living memory. Strange, what we inherit, I can see you looking at the evolving poem with your father over your shoulder saying “hmmm, now that’s an interesting problem …” – Brendan

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I wish I could have shown him this, or really any of my writing, before he passed away. He was a great supporter of my various endeavors, my mother as well, and I really miss him. I think he would have liked it.

  5. claudia says:

    i remembered it instantly..enjoyed the re-read..

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for the reread. Sorry about posting it again so soon. I’ll remember next time to check before posting a link from an older poem. Still, it is definitely one of my favorites.

  6. Ruth says:

    He sounds an awesome dad – and what a wonderful tribute you have made for him. The middle stanza sings, it’s so beautiful.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you. Like anyone, he had his quirks, which with his passing have all become precious. I gave this to my mother for Christmas after I wrote it. She agreed that it captured him, the foibles and the chuckles and the dearness. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

  7. manicddaily says:

    Very sweet sweet poem and portrait. k

  8. How apt the way you interject Texas (to me) – put me in mind of the old CW song “when I die, just let me go to Texas” with bluebonnets, mockingbirds, pine trees, (a little mountain cedar) and that monumental live oak spreading arms and acorns to salve, shade, protect, climb, think, see leaf patterns, motifs, clouds, stars, moon phases and eclipses. I knew there was finality before the truly heart – rending personal epitaph – he knew how to solve all the problems. So fantastically touching and beautiful.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’m so glad you read this. I was definitely interjecting Texas (my roots). I’ve got a wonderful picture of that live oak from my last trip. It’s like an enormous bonsai … so beautiful. Wish my father was still around so I could introduce you to him. He was quite the character and would have bent your for a spell. Thank you for sharing in this poem with me.

  9. heart warming words to a lucky father, smiles.


  10. A great tribute to you father. He must be a valuable role model and an inspiring man.

  11. passionate ode to father,
    a gift no money can buy, way to go.


    love the detailed descriptions…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Noiseless Cuckooclock,
      Welcome. Thank you for your reading and comment. The specific descriptions were part of the writing exercise, a part I particularly liked. The prompt is explained on my writing prompts page. Visit again sometime. 🙂

  12. ayala says:

    A beautiful and warm tribute !

  13. brian miller says:

    smiles. i love all the little textures of him that you capture….the scratching the engrossment into the problems…his response at the end made me smile…a warm tribute…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      These were all very much my father. I shared this with my mother not too long ago, and my sister had it framed for her with a photo of him. As much as she liked it (and she loved it), I’m sure my father would have liked it even more. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

  14. Pat Hatt says:

    In some way this truly does touch us all, a very inspiring piece, nicely done!

  15. claudia says:

    oh this is lovely…love it when people are passionate about the things they are doing..and he obviously is…great poem and welcome at dVerse

    • Yousei Hime says:

      claudia, 🙂 He was nothing if not passionate about math and science. I was often called to look at how to solve some problem, usually when I was on my way to watch tv. I’d love to be so distracted again. Thank you for your visit and kind words, and I’m delighted to join dVerse.

  16. joyislife says:

    Wow, that is what I love to read. Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. How beautiful, something we can all relate to I think.

  18. ichabod says:

    Hi Yousei;

    My father passed away four years ago. It was strange for I was out of the country so long and only saw him four times in twenty years. I am not a kid either, so I thought I would accept it like so many other deaths in my life.

    It was different.

    I appreciate your poem

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for sharing and your kind words, Sir Ichabod. Death of a parent is very different. I was fortunate to have seen him a few months before he died. He and my mother made a trip up to see my sister in Kansas and then traveled over to Michigan. They brought me the piano I’d learned on, practiced on, and entertained on my whole young life. My father insisted that I get it, and was determined to bring it to me. Because they lived in Texas (my mother still does), we didn’t get to see them very often. I was very grateful for that last visit.

  19. Amity Me says:

    I suddenly remember my late father, and i almost cried Yousei….

    …i remember how he worked hard in life just to be able to provide his family a decent life, but then, after those sacrifices, he was taken by the Lord at his middle life, not being able to further enjoy life when his kids are already having a better life and when his grandchildren are now teeners and some are already in college.

    …he must be so proud of his grand children who are achievers in school…my poor father…

    i really liked this poem of yours, but i have written one about a parent but it was my mother whom i had described in the poem, that after my father’s death, she became “hard as nails” just to survive the harsh realities in life…

    wonderful poem Yousei…keep up!

  20. Julie says:

    Yousei, this poem is Awesome with a capital A. It is my favorite of yours so far. I’m sure I’ll think that about many of your poems to come. But right now, this is my #1 favorite.

    The description of his hands in the first stanza made me cry (in a good way…it made me think of my father). But even though others can relate to the father image, you bring out your own Dad’s individual personality here, and it is all his own. What excellent details. “Old paint and careless scars” is one of the best lines I’ve read in a while. ‘Scuse me for gushing…I get excited when I see a gem.

    Bringing the math in…and the conversation…is perfect. I love the question, and I love his answer. You really paint a very vivid picture of your Dad. You also made me, a total stranger, admire him very much. Yes, do give the poem to your mom. Thank you for sharing him here with us!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I like it too. I can’t say for sure if it’s my favorite because it is “so” good, but it is my favorite because it is my dad. He passed away January following 9/11. There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think about him at least once, a gentle ache and deep fondness. My sister has already promised to print the poem up nice and pretty and frame it for my mom. My sister already cried, and she rightly predicted my mom will. Yes, I’m very proud of the poem, and I’m glad you understood it so well. Thank you for sharing it with me.

  21. catgirlslovehaiku says:

    Love this poem. So personal.

  22. blissbait says:

    This is so lovely. What an incredible Christmas gift. Straight from the heart to the heart. My heart swells with this tenderness. Loving so and living the details fully. Thank You for sharing this sweetness. Namaste. 🙂

  23. Tasneem R says:

    Hi Yousei you looking cute in this pic!

  24. lesliepaints says:

    Timeless Yousei. I absolutely was sold on this poem about “Dad” where it says, “Ah good, you’re here”.

  25. flandrumhill says:

    There are so many inspiring fathers on the planet. You’re so lucky to have one of them 🙂

  26. Carmen says:

    This is beautiful. Every Daddy’s little girl will appreciate it. I’m lucky to still have my dad. At 80, he’s still strong and very active (he was jet skiing last summer!). I hope I have his genes.

    p.s. I like the snow 🙂

  27. Technobabe says:

    Wonderful. I was in the room with him watching him working and thinking. Seeing him through your eyes and your heart and your love.

  28. jruthkelly says:

    i really appreciated this…my own dad grips the pencil in a similar fashion but his passion is the world of tough crossword puzzles. his head for knowledge and deciphering cryptic suggestion is relentless. great images here…

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