I Don’t Invite Family to Poetry Readings

originally published in Kisses With Fishes, Bank Heavy Press September 2012

If I had a book of poems—published
that is—
I wouldn’t want my family
to read them.

Not that I don’t like them.
I do.
That’s the problem.
If they read my poems
(and they have—big mistake
when you are a beginner,
write love poetry to another
young man and your stepmother
finds your verse about his beauty
on your way to your mother’s
across the country)
they’d like me less.

In college we made chapbooks
for presents in my first
poetry class.

I sent one to my mom
and one to her sister
and one to my brother.

But not my dad, nor any on his side.

My mom called me after reading
and asked if I was OK.
I told her, “yeah.”
I guess she realized that I deal
with tons of shit.

If I shared poems with my dad,
he’d call me a fag—or worse,
like he’s done before.
I write poems about men,
about nature. I write poems
about him.
About secrets of the family.

I think they’d finally
realize I’m not
going to change—
and then,
then they’d stop trying
stop caring.

I don’t invite family
to poetry readings.

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