“My Father Asks Me to Kill Him” by Lauren Schmidt

Lauren Schmidt


When our neighbor rolled past,
or the mold of him, much older
from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
you noted, over your shoulder, how it’s only

been a year. A year since he could hear
his name and nod, a year since he could
believe in a reason for being here,
on this beach street, alive, or seeming.

You looked at me. Something pushed up
through you like a wave of hooks. You took

your fingers, your index and middle,
slid them underneath your chin. Pressed
deeply, the skin sinking in,

cocked your thumb, locked and loaded,
you blew your top off, rocked
your head back. Your lips popped

a fake gun. You made me say
I’d take your days away, your pain,
you made me say I’d shame you less

than a disease like ALS. Except, not a weapon.
Instead, a push down the steps or a deft wrench
of your neck, a heavy deck to your head.

I’d drop a drug in your blood, bludgeon
you till you’re the ruddy muck of you,
stuff your head in the bathtub till the bubbles
won’t come. Out of love, father, out of love,

because you asked me to. I would
ruin you. Because you asked me to,
I would ruin you. Because you
asked me to, because you asked me to.

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems


Lauren Schmidt: “I volunteer teaching a weekly poetry workshop at a transitional housing program for homeless mothers. In these sessions, we read poetry, we write poetry, and sometimes, when I’m lucky, I can convince local poets to read their work to the women and talk about why poetry is so essential to survival. And every week something miraculous happens. The women say something they weren’t able to say, or they give themselves permission to feel something they’ve never felt, or they find the kind of validation they need to defend themselves against their difficult circumstances. Over and over again, poetry makes these miracles happen.”

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