Click here for Splinter Generation Poetry Editor Lisa McCool-Grime’s interview with Jake Sheff regarding poetry by fathers about fatherhood, being a new dad, and the confluence of medicine and the military in his life.
Inner villanelle of a father-to-be without his Xanax
Father-to-be, you are not a villain.
Hell, black bile does not blackball from mating.
But you know, they’ll be your children,
and gramps paternal, pater familias and his filial
two, your brother and you, were all fated
faithless to be, to feel like God’s a villain.
It’s like Her Majesty with sons all hemophilic:
your family bred because to breed is nature
as nature was to bleed for all the queen’s children.
Ah, then your obsessive quest for the mythic “Lost Pill” –
capsule of gold, herb of hard-to-reach estate;
your fortune to be (without pillage of a village) –
was a success! Your melancholy’s Minotaur is killed.
Like Theseus’s thread from dead beast to gate
you’ll guide from labyrinthine ills your children.
In innocence, with wings unseen, they’re silly
little portraits of yourself. But when your poor traits,
Jake, come to, know you’re not a villain.
Your cure is theirs, yours are lucky children.
The Day I Met Madeleine Rae
Like an elephant with a paintbrush, the tech smears jelly all over
Corri’s belly. Inside a boy, in the green light of Christmas morning,
echogenic pictures of a toy form from pre-unwrapping rattling;
in the ex-homemaker’s mind are pretty little seeds as she is shaking
honeydew like a maraca at the market. The ultrasound today is like that:
peeking with our ears. What am I now, a dolphin or a bat?
I don’t care, at home with pink hamburgers or blue turtles
equally. And shining onscreen, the twin Suns of a world
more beautiful than anything I’ve seen: “That means girl.”
She says when her water breaks
she’ll cry, her blue irides will melt
like polar ice caps, flood her eyes
and fall from lids like ledges
of the horizon. My world
our daughter will be, and she will be
my yester girl, my sad wife
insists. “Our marriage is our marrow, our red cell
our daughter, the morrow girl,” I say, “but you are
my vernal Gaia, eternal Terra, and I am
your mortal boy; I live inside your bones.”
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