Henri Cole

Oil and Steel
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My father lived in a dirty-dish mausoleum,
 
watching a portable black-and-white television,

reading the Encyclopedia Britannica,

which he preferred to Modern Fiction.

One by one, his schnauzers died of liver disease,

except the one that guarded his corpse

found holding a tumbler of Bushmills.

“Dead is dead,” he would say, an anti-preacher.

I took a plaid shirt from the bedroom closet

and some motor oil — my inheritance.

Once, I saw him weep in a courtroom —

neglected, needing nursing — this man who never showed

me much affection but gave me a knack

for solitude, which has been mostly useful.

Photos courtesy of Susan Unterberg (unless otherwise noted).