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Also by Virgil Suárez:
Anatomy of a Poetry Contest | Vespers on the Anniversary of My Father's Death | Poem for My Father

Poem for My Father

at night, long after the midnight movies
which I stayed up to see, what little nudity
they dared show, I also wrote my poems,
my stories, in teen-age blood, confusion
held at bay, and long after I fell asleep,
most often with the bedside lamp on,
a beacon to my awkwardness and longing,
and you'd walk in to turn it off, pull
the blankets over the body of your only
son, this boy you thought would never
amount to much, and one night, you held
my journal, looked at the words you could
not understand because everything written
there looked like chicken tracks, El Ingles
you'd lived in the United States in exile,
for ten years now, and you didn't speak
a word of it, in your ears the barks of dogs—
and now your own son wrote in code, poor
handwriting too, not like his grandmother
taught him, and you spoke in Spanish
under your breath, a heavy sigh, no sirve,
how useless, se pasa el tiempo escribiendo
, this act of writing trash, father,
or living after the illusory, and you thought
that night I was asleep, but I heard every
word you said, and that night I dreamt
each of those words shone in the sky,
burned there by the searchlights of my love
for you, for everything difficult, hard, obscure.

Printed in the Spring/Summer 2000 issue of CLR

Virgil Suárez

Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1962. He is the author of four published novels: Latin Jazz, The Cutter, Havana Thursdays, and Going Under, and of a collection of short stories titled Welcome to the Oasis.

He teaches Creative Writing and Latino/a and Caribbean Literature at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida where he lives with his family.

You Come Singing, a new collection of poems, is out from Tia Chuca Press/Northwestern University, as well as the limited edition book of poems titled Garabato Poems (Wings Press, San Antonio.) In The Republic of Longing, a new collection, is due out in the Spring of 2000 from Bilingual Review Press/Arizona State University.

You can find Virgil Suárez on the web at:
—  Florida State University
—  Barcelona Review
—  Meridian
—  Garabato Poems
—  Poetry Daily
—  Amazon
—  Barnes & Noble

Published by Clackamas Literary Review, in print and on the web at,, and
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