My father’s shack of a mechanic
shop still appears in my dreams. We talk,
Dad and I in there, about grease—
especially the smell, its gnawing
stench that even time can’t wash
out. He says, My shirts are all
work clothes now, and I nod along,
wiping my hands on jeans he bought
for me, the ones I couldn’t wear,
and he’ll grow tired and yell. We’ll jaw
back and forth until his heart
hurts. I ask him why he haunts
my nights, but all he does is cry.
His face deflates and dangles off
his skull, wet laundry on a line,
so I tie it in place with cloths
under a hooked work light on the wall
and itemize his faults to dissolve
the grease left on me with his tears,
which never works. It only smears.
Joshua Eric Williams is a disabled veteran, poet, and nature writer from Carrollton, GA . He won the 2014 Eclectic Poetry Award, and his haiku collection, The Strangest Conversation, was an honorable mention for the 2020 Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Award. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many print and online journals, including Measure, Literary Matters, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, and Rattle.