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2022- A Father's Heart Poetry Contest Winning Poems

Girl Dad by Tracey Wiley



Lovingly he brushes and grooms the curls on
top of her head, each stroke a memory shared
of times past...

sleepless nights
baby food fights

And those to come...

prepubescent moods
no reason attitudes

At times wondering would it have been easier
if he’d had a son, finally understanding a
mother’s work is never done

Yet he wouldn’t trade this experience even if
offered all the world’s treasures, for in his
daughter’s unconditional love there’s nothing

than tight hugs just because
the sweet emulation of all things Dad,
from wearing his caps to scribbling lyrics
in a notepad

Adoration reflected in trusting eyes,
believing he will always be in her life
Having her back no matter the issue, his broad
shoulders a resilient pillow of strength, comfort,

And even though at the tender age of eleven
she’s nearly five foot seven, he still gingerly carries
her to bed to dream of new adventures ahead...

More nerf gun battles and WWE wrestling moves,
dance-offs, singing loudly out of tune
Graduations, heartaches, first real job, eventually
marriage and sharing in the joy of her becoming
a mom

But all things in due time, for now he’ll cherish the long
talks, slow walks, good-night forehead kisses, the sincere
“I love you Dad” whispers hoping she never gets too
old for this

Holding on as long as he can to the little girl in
pigtails, thankful for God’s heavenly blessing of being
a Girl Dad.




Packing Off The Last Of Daddy's Baggage by Diane Kendig

I won’t keep this flannel shirt, so huge he didn’t wear it,

no smell clings, purchased by my sibling who didn’t visit

so didn’t see he no longer wore size Extra Large

except in spirit or whatever expanse people felt on meeting him.

Five-ten, one hundred eighty pounds. Squarish. Solid.

Mom always called him “Stocky.”

The shirt hangs next to his Santa outfit, and he was one stocky Santa.

“The real Santa is Uncle Russ,” a second-grade relative told his mom,

insulted that their class visitor had worn “Tennis Shoes.” Uncle Russ

always wore tall black boots with the only costume he ever wore,

a rich red velvet cinched with a belt wide as the Lincoln Highway.

Today, the Santa Look is “natural,” a plaid flannel shirt and whiskers

not these long flowing creamy locks and beard he’d don.

“Natural Santa,” he laughed. How natural the idea of rising up chimneys,

driving reindeer. He had driven plow horses and race horses,

and he had built chimneys. That was natural.

He oozed Santa-ness. Not saintliness. Returning from the war, he was ready

to beat up the neighbor who bullied his slow brother, to swing at anyone

when a car backfired. He had calmed down by the time he became Santa,

happiest Dad in the neighborhood. Once, he gave me his paycheck to hold,

and I let go, and it flew out the car window. He jumped out, approached

the recipient, gave his factory badge number, and they man handed

it back. He never scolded, never said a word, knew I had learned.

But then in dementia, some bit of the fight came back.

In assisted living his last year, he punched a resident who got too close

and yelled into his face. The Jackson police apologized

for writing Dad up, but said the man’s family insisted.

There was no big Kris Kringle trial, nor dismissal,

but I’ll tell you, if we had needed to flood a courtroom with letters,

generations of church kids, relatives, and his doctors’ grown families

would have shown up to spring him. Instead, he hid out at my house

till his victim forgot, which didn’t take long.

I Did Something Right by Duane Brown, Jr.

As I get the chance to watch you grow

I strive with the effort that you'll always know

That I do not often get things in life correct

But my intent is to live in a role that's erect

You challenged me when I was off the beaten path

I tried leading the way so you didn't crash

Pointing you in the most reasonable course I knew how

By setting the example of things I'm still learning now

But to see how you have grown,

even with my mistakes I am grateful

that you want to be like me, despite my fate

So I will continue to stand and be the standard for might

Knowing that in your eyes,

I did something right 

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