Tree House

By NICK MIRIELLO 

A father is only as good the tree house he never builds
Which he’s promised to his children before
they were script on checkbook, a practiced inheritance
from his father, and his father’s
father.

A gene born in the stars men still look up at from
time to time. Or an explanation for the summer
I went searching for the name of a man
who built the Brooklyn Bridge
with unforgiving stone and sand
and the metal cable wire once
run through his hands.

My mother hosted a young boy
my winter pen pal
the first summer after
the first divorce.

The boy described movies
and wine he hadn’t tasted,
but whose language he learned
from a distant cousin,
another pen pal.

The one who postmarked his letters
from Newark’’s Public Library.
Brick City.

Where young Philip Roth wrote
Goodbye, Columbus, a long short
story, the boy had seen as
a black and white movie.

I sat in awe, while he
proudly rubbed his
small, leathery hands
he’’d stained a purple
black walnut, from
a tree he picked in
California for his
father, who
promised him
a tree house
the coming
summer.

 

[Purchase Issue 15 here.]

Nick Miriello is senior international editor at VICE News. Before joining VICE News, he was the senior international editor at The Huffington Post. His writing has appeared in VICE, VICE News, The Los Angeles Review of Books, McSweeney’s, Guernica, CutBank Literary Magazine, Huffington Magazine, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

Tree House

Related Posts

poetry feature image

January 2021 Poetry Feature: Bruce Bond

BRUCE BOND
I was just another creature crawling from the mausoleum, / and I thought, so this is it, the place in the final chapter / where I am judged for all my cruelties, blunders, failures of attention, / and I waited for the furies to take me, or some such host. / But it was just another morning.

Sky full of comets

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia

MARIANGELA GUALTIERI
And he soars / saved, outstretched / untouched by the gravity that pins us / down / we deserters of empty spaces and heights / shadows cast / into modest taverns for a bite. / Heads in capitals / of rust. / A lifetime annuity of darkness. / Only a cry can save us now.

poetry feature image

December 2020 Poetry Feature: Denise Duhamel and Jeffrey Harrison

DENISE DUHAMEL
Where was I / when I was 20? I’d already been accepted / as an exchange student, taking my first plane ride / to London where I’d catch a train / to Wales. On that first flight, I sat next to a woman / in a shawl—how old was she? It’s hard to say.