John Haugh

Shock of seeing Dad leaning against our kitchen cupboard,  

our side door open to deck and back yard, silent,  


looking out at rain, smoking, stepping outside,  

exhaling along his cupped hand, then waving smoke away. 


Dad spoke in ragged tones, without ever turning,  

You worked the farm, but can’t know, can’t feel  


rain’s comfort.  All your plastic, packaged insulation 

of wealth.  You’ll never know, never live hunger, or harvest. 


The fifth heart attack took Dad, young.  After, I drifted  

back to University, never lived at home again. 


but I still carry his challenge in that rare fragment, 

a glimpse of hardscrabble, hard-won Mississippi grit. 


Three decades later, I find myself back in our kitchen,  

reliving that time, knowing bone deep, a son cannot be his father, 


but I still hear, “You’ll never know, never live hunger, or harvest.” 

I hear, still, his repurposed ghost, but have no good answer. 

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John Haugh’s writing has been published in Main Street Rag, Notre Dame Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The Tipton Poetry Review, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He won the Nancy J. Heggem Poetry Award, and was selected for Winston-Salem’s Poetry in Plain Sight. Mr. Haugh lives in North Carolina, was a NCAA national champion in fencing and spent untold hours browsing Powell’s City of Books in Oregon when young. With help, he is working on a chapbook that might be titled Mixtapes & Repurposed Ghosts.