Garrett Phelan is the author of the chapbook Outlaw Odes (Antrim House) and micro-chapbooks Unfixed Marks and Standing where I am (Origami Poetry Project). His poems have appeared in numerous publications including Potomac Review, Connecticut River Review, Word Riot, Off the Coast, decomP, Unbroken Journal, and Leaping Clear. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Roll a Bowl a Ball a Penny a Pitch
What was essential for my father was
his soft-shoe dance he stopped dancing,
the disappearing pennies in his hand
that we were never quick enough to grab,
the three honorable sons he wanted
just like Charlie Chan on the TV.
We were not honorable and
Charlie Chan wasn’t even Chinese.
We watched the Friday Night Fights
until that one last beer made him
battered, beaten and bitter
like any old palooka.
“Roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch,”
he’d sing like some carnival barker
seducing us into another game
that none of us ever won.