The Times Picayune

The smell of your morning ritual,

Recycled coffee beans,

Cinnamon toast on your dampening napkin.

The ends of the loaf

Religiously ignored,

And I’ve kept that habit with me.

I used to think it was just you,

But now I’ve noticed… Lots of folks avoid the ends.

I homeschooled myself while

Mama went to work,

And right before writing practice

You would unroll

The Times Picayune,

And give me the Comics section.

You would let me read them first

So you could watch my expression

And decide if they were any good.

Sunday was great. The comics were in color.

Double-edged sword though;

On Sundays, you got to go first.

(You could see the color comics way better.)

Your favorite was “Marmaduke”.

I remember that very well.

And I remember you.

Behind the air of mysticism, behind the culture

You brightly, yet quietly displayed,

Was a man of humor.

I knew you well.

You had so many names,

So many kids.

So much influence over all these people.

Your family.

But you just wanted your coffee.

You wanted

Judge Mathis, Bonanza,

And weekly excursions to the Autocrat,

Where you could dress up and get out.

You would never live to know what you

Gave to me, since that young age.

I was a good kid. Because I was scared.

But I was strong, because you represented

The otherness of life.

You showed me there was more to life, waiting right outside the weathered borders of my surroundings.

More than poverty and drive-bys

And more than helpless fear.

Even though you were the essence

Of strength, you were also

The coldest testament to heartbreak.

Because you loved your wife and you kept us all with a roof and a place to sleep

But who was keeping you?

And that was the humanity I really needed to see from somebody.

You were the best person to see wearing that

Humanity.

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