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“Everything comes to us from others, even innocence.”

Jean-Paul Sartre, from Saint Genet


When my dad was drunk
he used to drive down the freeway
slowly, laughing at the honking.

When my dad was drunk
he would buy me oatmeal cookies
and Italian soda at the bar.

When my dad was drunk
he would run his fingers through
his hair more than usual
read Lao Tze more than usual
cry more than usual
be gone more than usual.

Usual was him gone.
Often gone was he.
Was he gone often?

He would announce,
“I’m going out.”
He was outgoing.
No, he was ingoing.
He was going in so far
that no daughter or star
no sun or moon
could shine their light on him.
Their beautiful light,
he was blind to it,
so they shone even brighter.

In the black dwarf of my heart
I am finally at rest.


by Joanna Oltman Smith


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