Ted Jonathan

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Artwork by Gene McCormick


I liked you
and your unsmiling
loner father a lot

His large head
of black curls
retiring dark eyes
Popeye forearms

That he favored
of the faded blue
numbers tattooed
into his forearm 

And you—
hopeful and pretty 

Oceanic gray eyes
behind granny glasses

Told me
he said
no thanks
when you offered
to treat him to
Fiddler on the Roof
for his birthday

You suspected
he was unsure of
his true date of birth

He told you
that in Romania
his full-bearded father
had been a tailor

And he himself
worked at a paint
factory in Yonkers

But you—

The way
he watched out
for you was right

sizing me up
as I played it cool
on Kuklemonga Street

Staring back
I noticed
that his tattoo
started with a triangle

I hope
he survived
to see
his baby Grace
become a scholar
and mother

moving from the Bronx
to Wisconsin
and on to Haifa

And surely
you too burn

there will
be legions
of viral-eyed deniers
who’ll say
your father
never existed


Ted Jonathan is a poet and short story writer. Raised in the Bronx, he now lives in New Jersey. His collection of poems and short stories Bones & Jokes was published by NYQ Books (2009). His poetry collection RUN was published by NYQ Books (2016). He can be contacted at theodorejon@yahoo.com