I Have a Father, I Have a Thousand Fathers

They were telling jokes on T.V. late at night.

They were driving the school bus, lifting

me to drinking fountains I couldn’t reach.

They were talking too much, telling us

to quiet down, they were fixing broken stairs,

they danced when they were drunk, cried

when no one was around.  They sounded

like smoking lungs, like too many hours

worked.  They were not the first to run

in abandon. They killed in battle on desert

sand, were shot in city streets, they told me

I was weak, they let their weakness lead

them.  They enforced sentences, they served

time.  They held me while I cried, touched

me when I didn’t want it, didn’t touch me

when I needed.  They hated themselves

for it. They wrote poetry, they hated poetry.

They scribed the game rules from books

of their fathers, and yelled when I did not

follow the rules.  They were better than

that.  My fathers were of every color skin,

accent, tongue. They praised and cursed

and knew no God.  They felt the weight

of their predicament, yet could not see

the time-honored bars of their own cage.

Their words were wise and ignorant, soft

and full of rage.


Lizabeth Yandel is a writer and musician based in San Diego, CA and originally from Chicago.  She is currently completing a lyric novella about the city of New Orleans, and a chapbook, Service, which is inspired by her long, dysfunctional relationship with the service industry.  Her work can be found in Popshot Magazine, Rattle Magazine, and is forthcoming in Lumina Journal and 1932 Quarterly Journal.