Tuesday, January 1, 2013




After my dad had his heart attack
I flew home and two days later
There he was in his hospital bed
A huge bump on his head and
Still groggy from his fall from a bar stool
Onto the thinly carpeted concrete floor
Of the club where he was playing the pokies.
Later I wondered whether he was
Winning or losing when he fell,
Though that can only ever be that much
A matter of fine degree when
You are gambling with five cent pieces.

He asked how my mum was and I said
Not so good but okay, and he asked
How she was fixed for dough at home
And he said there's three grand up the
Budder's bum: I had no idea what he meant
But my mum did and sure enough inserted
Her finger up the back passage of the
Buddha statue that had sat so long and
So incongruously in the living room,
And pulled out three grand or so
In scrunched up twenties and fifties.

The week after he died I was clearing out
A cupboard when I came across a little
Spiral spined notebook, and realized
It was a record of every shopping purchase
He and my mother ever made at Bi-Lo,
Down to the last cent. I did not know
Why he would keep such a book,
As surely receipts would suffice
If you were that way inclined, but
Then there was so much I did not know
About the man, which is perhaps a most
Fitting thing for a son and his father.

(print version can be found in Best Australian Poems 2012, Black Inc)


  1. G'day Larry. I really like the unpretentious conversational tone of this one. Actually I was only reading it in the book yesterday and thinking the same thing. A lot of the other poems this year seem to me to be the "random found" or the overly-academic variety. Maybe I'm just an over-critical grumpy old man...

  2. In my opinion one can never be over-critical, at any age Rob!

  3. Great poem, Larry. I was touched by your admission that there was so much you didn't know about him. I feel the same about my old man, who wasn't addicted to the pokies, only the grog. He used to pinch glasses from the Forest Inn in Bexley, so he could drink his DA from a proper glass in his garage, away from Mum's prying eyes.
    He didn't record purchases - Mum did all the shopping - but kept a record of every phone call he made or received and the guts of the conversation. To each his peccadillos.

  4. Thanks Brendan. I know from my reading of your own work that you have written about your father too... and yes, they all had their kinks. As do we all, though in my case not recording shop purchases or phone calls.

  5. Larry,

    Honestly, that is a beautiful poem.

    Mishy Godard