Home > Poetry > Manhood’s Gambit
Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
Manhood’s Gambit
We do not choose the parents who birthed us. 
My father asked me if I wanted to stayin England.
His voice echoed between mountainswith great canyons, fading,
remembering his face from two pictures,hardly,
remembering the Cadbury Chocolate Roses,the aftertaste. No
loving calls, nor weekly, monthly visits recalledever. No
proclivity for me to be rooted to his treeor spring buds.
My stepfather was presence, postured to parent uswith anger
instead of teaching math, football, manhood.Feeling empty
for a patriarch-guide, providing stories of life.My mummy scraping
for our emotional needs; his loving touchmissing,
given to glasses of stiff drink. 
My adolescence welcomed advisementfrom a man, arms wide,
my friend’s father, pseudo-father roleteaching me
the mechanics of cars, life, totouch a woman
with respect, kind voice, a smile,willing to laugh
with sincere heart. 
I played the three-shell game, guessing 
after a green pea, finding stale 
affinity in these fathers, strangers, 
to explain my hairs growing, leaving reeking odors 
when not cared for—my teenage feelings, 
my unraveling when seized on by riotous peers, 
those tempting serpents that a father or real male mentor 
could have deflected. 
See what's inside AGNI 91

Mervyn Seivwright’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Santa Fe Literary Review, AGNI, The Trinity Review, Montana Mouthful Literary Magazine, iō Literary Journal, Toho Journal, and Rigorous Journal, as well as in Z Publishing’s anthology 2019 Emerging Poets in Kentucky. His work has also been commissioned by the British Museum in Ipswich, England. Born in London and of Jamaican lineage, he lives in Tipp City, Ohio. (updated 4/2020)

Back to top