That'll Be the Day
Before my father brought home the future
governor of Massachusetts
my brothers and I were coached on how to shake hands
with a grip firm enough
to impress Churchill. It'd be like sitting down to dinner
with History, my father said.
Luckily, History was too well-bred
to remark on my bad manners.
Sixteen and fed up with diplomacy, I fled, eager
to get back to what mattered:
Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Anthony and the Imperials.
While my progenitor and the soon-to-be
candidate for vice president
talked corporate incentives and tax breaks
I turned up my radio
and kept I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill
blaring, even after
being asked politely to turn it down.
My father took pains not to lift his voice
in front of guests,
but I sang at the top of mine.
I had my old man just where I wanted him:
Walking the Dog.
Chains of Love.
Maybe I'd drive History crazy also.
Maybe it'd grow sick of hearing the same words
over and over. Maybe
I'd get a rise out of it too:
Wake up, little Susie! Wake up!
Everyone had a breaking point,
and I was going to see what History's was.

--- --- From The Improbable Swervings of Atoms
University of Pittsburgh Press
© 2005 Christopher Bursk
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