I wrote this about my dad, being one of the few memories I have of him, of the house in Oklahoma City. The fan was high on the vaulted ceiling, and woe be it to whoever let a balloon go in that room. The light would shine in from the patio doors and the windows and reflect off the dust (and smoke) in the air. It was usually quiet on Sundays, when a football game wasn't on. And when it was....
This poem, in whatever form I submitted it, won the 1999 AWP (Associated Writers Press) Intro Award and was published in the Mid-American Review.
The Great Sleepers
Sunday afternoons, the ceiling fan
whispers as it turns around--
A chair squeaks, an ancient squeak,
the contemplative creak of a sleeping lord.
He sleeps in that chair,
old, rustic and blue, the way
Caesar on his throne watched
gladiators battle, and genuflect,
saying "Morturi te salutamus,"
so does this king, owner of all he sees,
snoozes through the Cowboys beating the Bears,
or maybe dreams
of when his dad sat on the couch
eating donuts, smoking cigars.
The rulers of this world, look at them.
They sit in their ancestral halls like old kings
overlooking tiny empires. And then sleep.
Even Charlemagne had blue slippers,
lying on the floor.