Totem Pole Fathers

He carves red barcodes on his arms
and teaches you to do the same.

On the floor swept in a tantrum,
apoplexy popping seeds,
the face of disorder.

He says you are not a person.
You are also a totem pole,
slanting under black waves.

So you decide you are not a person.

So when he chokes the grown plant,
when he halves it whole,
you shove him down.

Down to where the caul chars.
Down to where eyes peer out.

6 thoughts on “Totem Pole Fathers

  1. Steve Myers says:

    Wowsa, right from the title that I mistook as totem pole feathers, this poem exploded for me all the way through and had/has me like that third line, on the floor, but less tantrum and more awe.

  2. sanberdooboy says:

    i suppose that in some cultures tattooing red barcodes on one’s arms would be an appropriate symbol when the market economy seems to be more important than just about anything else. (hm. would that be our culture?) but this father, a monster, destroys the child’s identity. the last five lines have such power, the power of righteous revenge.

    • Millie Ho says:

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you saw those elements at play. We are also encouraged by society/culture to put our parents first, and certainly we should, but only for parents who are capable of loving their children.

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