Friday, February 20, 2015

Baseball Cards & Johnny's Hat

Dedicated to Barry Thomas Outlar—I miss you, Dad.
—Poems by Scott Thomas Outlar, Atlanta, GA


My Dad died
one year ago—
is the emotion
supposed to change
on some arbitrary date
correlating with a cycle around the sun?
Was it more difficult yesterday
and easier now?
Or is it just the same
all the time
since he is gone
and not coming back?
My Dad being dead
is the most bizarre
concept I’ve ever dealt with.
It really doesn’t
make any sense
when I truly
try to grasp it,
so I don’t try to.
Life is a series
of strange occurrences
and moments of suffering,
with death
taking the cake
once all the candles
have been blown out.


When I was a child
my Dad
would take me
to the baseball card store
at Green’s Corner
off Jimmy Carter Blvd.
It seemed like such
a long journey,
a fun trip,
a special occasion.
The store was on the
second floor
of a strip mall.
I lost five dollars
at two different times
in that same store,
which seems almost impossible,
yet it is true.
I loved collecting cards
with my Dad.
We spent countless hours together—
buying the packs, sitting on the floor,
opening them, organizing each card by number,
talking about the different players and teams.
My Dad died earlier this year,
so it was just me and Mom
on Thanksgiving.  We drove
past where the card store
used to be years ago.
Older now, I realize
it’s not actually that far away,
only a few miles
from the house,
and it doesn’t feel
like such a special trip anymore.



This hat was worn by Johnny,
and my Father loved Johnny—  
who taught him how to fire a gun
and took him to the woods.
I never met Johnny;
he was dead
before my time.
But I’ve worn his hat
for twenty-five years or so.
I wore it in the woods
as a kid
while pretending to be
Indiana Jones.
I wore it to the store
to buy ink
when I needed to
print the first copy
of an early book
I wrote.
I wore it to
my Father’s funeral; now
both he and Johnny
are gone.
But I’ll keep
wearing the hat
because I loved
my Father,
and that seems to be
the way
this thing goes.

(first pub. in The Camel Saloon)



I sang to my Father
on his deathbed.
He had not spoken a word
in days, cancer-ridden,
organs collapsing, high on morphine,
but I knew he could still hear me.
I sang a song
from a book I’d written
years earlier during a particularly
good time in my life, and this,
being a particularly dark time,
seemed like the right time
to balance the dualistic energies.
I don’t think
I gave such considerations
that much thought
at the time; I was just sad
and wanted to sing, wanted
my Father to hear my voice
in a deep bass tone
that mirrored his own.
I sang a song called Home.
I sang it with all my soul,
as a goodbye note
to the most important person
I have ever known.



My dreams are haunted
with distorted visions
of what you once were,
what you once said,
what you once stood for,
what you once meant to this world.
Those days are vanished
into the ethereal mists of an unknown realm –
somewhere that I cannot touch,
somewhere forsaken by life and the flight
of human drama, somewhere beyond
temporal concerns of flesh, bone and blood.

My memories are polluted
with ancient regrets
that run deep to the marrow of my being,
that dig down to the depths of my core,
that burrow in and stealthily lay waiting
for the most inopportune time to strike –
rising up with black claws,
razor sharp and spiked with cancer,
crashing into my weak mortality
with laughter from the Revelation Grave.

My life is half-baked
now that you have flown the coop
and left my mind in tatters,
ripped asunder and torn down to
the foundations—a house of cards
toppling in the vicious tornado you create
with your will-o’-the-wisp eerie
ghost vibrations; ghoulish behavior
that leaves grit in my teeth and grime
covering every intention I once had toward peace.

My heart beats with a little less enthusiasm—
more a chore than a vital organic process.
My eyes are caked with a blinding mess
of muddy illusions that make no sense
as I trudge through day-to-day events
and try to make out the signposts
that once flashed with neon translucent
brilliance, but now throb with pulses of infinite gray.
The world is a colder place now
with you no longer around to share the seasons.
My senses are dulled,
my feelings are numb,
my immunity has been weakened,
my muscles have atrophied—
my only solace is
that soon enough we will meet again.

(first pub. in Dead Snakes)


Our thanks to Scott Outlar for today's tribute to his dad. Scott writes: This month marks the one-year anniversary of my Father's passing. His birthday is right around the corner so I thought I'd put together a dedication to him. Scott was featured in the Kitchen on January 15 of this year, and more of his work can be seen in the new issue of Rattlesnake Press's WTF, which was released last night at Luna's Cafe. Later today, there will be a few free copies at The Book Collector, or you can obtain a copy for $2 at

Note also that this coming Sunday is the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center's Sonnet Contest which is being held in conjuction with Sac. Theater Company's 450th Anniversary of Shakespeare's birth on April 26. Keep up with all the Bard events at  



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