(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

A Smile To Remember

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, 'be happy Henry!'
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
can
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?'

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother
smiled

User Rating: 3,7 / 5 ( 490 votes ) 104

Comments (104)

He's a good cautionary tale of what domestic violence in the house does to a childs psyche. Perhaps happiness to him felt like a contrivance too often because he saw his mom pull it over any tragedy like setting drapes in front of a window with a large mushroom cloud in the distance.
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my mother, poor fish, wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile! why don't you ever smile? ' great 10++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A touching poem full of emotion........
man made out of vodka and cigarettes
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