A month after my stepson fled to Paris
and hanged himself in a public park,
I was waiting for the F train to
take me to a party in Brooklyn
where all talk of mental illness
and suicide had been banned.
Busy rehearsing small talk
and trying not to think of
Aaron's death, I didn't see who was
making the rounds of the platform
till a hand bumped my shoulder
and a big moon-faced man gazed
down at me. Ducking his head,
the man mumbled a request as
inaudible as the asides
Aaron muttered to prove he wasn't
duped by benevolence. Homeless,
he called himself when his home
was our couch, homeless, like the man
in the ripped parka booming, "Bless you,
my child!" as I filled his palm with
all the change I had, then waited for
him to walk away. The man frowned.
"Aren't you", he said, "forgetting something?"
How was I to answer? It was like
hearing Aaron ask, "What brand of poison are
you serving today?" and remembering how
once in a fury he broke down a door.
The man shook his head. Slowly.
Sadly. Disapprovingly. "Son", he said,
"did you ever know me to beat
you for no reason?" All I could think
to say was "No."
"So where is my hug?"
I didn't move, but already strong arms
were pulling me close and my cheek had thumped
the pillow of a down-padded chest.
"I'm God", the man confided. "And you –
you and Malcolm X are my sons."
How crazy, I thought, how crazy that
my muscles in that instant unclenched
and a sob caught in my throat as if
it was Aaron's craziness I held
and Aaron hugging back before
both of us let go.
Originally from the Seattle area of the US, Jay Klokker now lives ninety miles north of New York City in the small college town of New Paltz. He studied poetry writing at the University of Washington and Boston University, where he received his Masters degree. After recently retiring from a career of teaching English as a Second Language to immigrant adults, he has been concentrating on the writing of poems and speculative fiction. His poems have appeared in a number of literary journals, including Agni, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and Shark Reef.