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A Poem to my Deadbeat Daddies

Poem by Dakota Parks

Published by Troubadour, 2021

In a conference room full of anarchist queers
And three generations of feminists
It is asked of me:
“How do you find literary inspiration
in such chauvinistic, sexist men
such as the beat poets?”
I am suddenly naked in the school showers
Blood swirling the drain,
Covering the bruises in clothing,
Walking to my car in the parking lot,
Where I will find
The word “dyke” keyed
Deep into the paint of my car door

In a few short years—
The Midwest will become bearable
as the youth gentrify our small river town
With exposed brick and Edison bulbs
I will fuck the quarterback’s girlfriend
Sneak in underage to the only gay bar in
a hundred-mile radius
and stand awe-stricken on the streets of
Boystown as gay marriage is legalized,
just days before Chicago’s pride parade.
But until then—
there is solace in their words:
Chapbooks of poetry hidden
on the bottom shelf
in the local bookstore
Like porn for rent behind
the blue curtains in Family Video

Daddy Whitman
Daddy Ginsberg
Daddy Burroughs
Dirty daddy Bukowski
I don’t know what that says about me
The fact that my literary father figures are all men
Despite my obvious afflictions
Or that they’re mostly sexual fucking deviants
Ginsberg is eating a “cock and balls sandwich” with Kerouac in Nirvana
Burroughs is puppeteering his ghost in Tangiers
Trying to figure out how to
Acquire blow and phantom sex at the same time
Bukowski says that you must fuck
a lot of beautiful women
and drink a lot of beer to be a good writer

I have nearly drowned myself in women and beer and still
I am endlessly fascinated by their ars poetica poems
The poems about writing poetry telling poets how to be better poets
Sweet Billy Collins tells you to clean your dirty fucking house
The jungle of pizza boxes, towering piles of books, and prowling cats
are not conducive to creativity
But I have pressed flowers and cigarettes
into the pages like religious atonements
Circled and underlined their words
Picked them apart like dissertations
I have tattooed my skin with the quotes
Whispered the poems between my lover’s thighs
Practiced my best monotone male voice in the mirror
I can do one hell of a beatnik voice

But I have to remind myself that I am a woman
A woman with tell-tale daddy issues, no doubt
But I would not have been a beatnik—
I also would not be able to yell the word “cunt”
In a poem
At an academic conference
or compare my lover’s vagina to a
Halloween store burning down on Christmas
if it were not for my deadbeat daddies
Receiving shock treatment in the asylums
for their deviant sexual practices
Appearing before the Supreme Court
for the literary merit of the word “cock”
Fighting the fascists that are rhyme and meter
and roaming the streets with typewriter arthritic
hands and opiate induced brains

No, I would not have been a beatnik
But I also would not be a journalist,
an openly queer poet,
or a transplanted English scholar
without them—you see
We cannot just stop reading
literature because of problematic authorship:
The key to being a good poet
is to just keep fucking writing






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