William Conelly

with drinks

Just like the rest of us, he started small,
a double handful for the ageing folks.
He peed and shat odd times, and learned to call
them crib-side with invented chokes.

They kept him mostly dry, topped-up and clothed,
pursuing kitsch household routines besides.
They snugged him in a teddy cap he loathed
for chilly-morning stroller rides.

He well remembers that; and warm days on
the Boardwalk how he’d push for all he could
—milk shakes, spun sugar, oil of cinnamon—
well after help books said he should.

Two-sided silences emerged, and grew
across his teens: the folks played down to nubs,
him gathering a bright, school retinue
to offset dim parental snubs.

* * *

He’s big now, famous for the published voice
that skims and crackles through his varied moods:
observer, satirist, expert of choice,
fount of sardonic platitudes.

But when he’s sloshed, or grows profusely sad,
he’ll lunge off into puerile family shit,
and drag around his poor old mom and dad.
He just can’t leave them out of it.