Home > Poetry > Manhood’s Gambit
Mervyn Seivwright
Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
Manhood’s Gambit
We do not choose the parents who birthed us.
My father asked me if I wanted to stay         in England.
His voice echoed between mountains         with great canyons, fading,
remembering his face from two pictures,         hardly,
remembering the Cadbury Chocolate Roses,         the aftertaste. No
loving calls, nor weekly, monthly visits recalled         ever. No
proclivity for me to be rooted to his tree         or spring buds.
My stepfather was presence, postured to parent us         with 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 touch         missing,
given to glasses of stiff drink.
My adolescence welcomed advisement         from a man, arms wide,
my friend’s father, pseudo-father role         teaching me
the mechanics of cars, life, to         touch 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)

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