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Stories we Tell and Other Poems by Richard Luftig

Jul 10, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Stories We Tell

A bullshitter is not hostile to the truth but is merely indifferent to it-Harry Frankfurt.

This is the God’s- honest truth,
my father would say
then tell a story and us kids
would believe every word.

How he hung out with Joe DiMaggio.
How he met Harry Truman and gave him advice.

If my mother was around
she’d just roll her eyes
and say: Thomas now stop
filling the children’s minds with your B.S.

But my father wouldn’t
even come up for air.
It ain’t B.S.
if you can sell it.

As I got older
I got good at connecting
the dots in his stories
and separating crap from truth.

Like how he met DiMaggio once at a tryout camp and shook his hand.

Or yelled out Give ‘em Hell Harry at a campaign rally and the President smiled and said that he

As I grew older, I guess could sell it pretty good myself.

Like the time I told my professor I was a week late coming back from spring break
because my car threw a rod in Florida, there were no motels with vacancies
and I had to camp out at the beach while it got fixed.

And later, ever worse B.S. Like when after my divorce and I would have custody of the kids for the weekends, how I’d make up all kinds of hairbrained excuses why I couldn’t visit my parent’s
for dinner.

But now with me in my sixties,
and him in his eighties, living
in a nursing home in Illinois

and me a full three states over
near Pittsburgh, visiting him

whenever I can
but knowing
it’s not often
enough. How he waits
for me to arrive

and tears up
when I have to leave,
takes my hand,
says how much

he misses Mom,
how she visits
his dreams
and he begs her to stay
but she says she can’t.

And how I look at him,
after so many years,
love him, mourn with him,
this once king of bullshit

who now is speaking
the God’s-honest truth.


It is August

and cicadas are giddy
nearly every late afternoon

when sticky temperatures
become equal to the humidity.

Then rain–
not at an angle

but straight
as needles,

makes puddle
islands in asphalt

on county roads.
It is only then

that she ventures
outdoors, walks

to the edge
of the field

to stand
in the storm.

She searches low,
angry sky

as if waiting
for something

only she understands,
then returns at twilight–

perhaps sad,
perhaps not–

it is hard to tell
when she says

so little and with the sweet
smell of rain on her shirt,

the only thing she allows
to accompany her home.


Also read:

Poems by Tanya Huntington

Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio and now resides in California. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of his poems recently appeared in Realms of the Mothers: The First Decade of Dos Madres Press. His latest full-length book of poems is available from Unsolicited 


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