The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


David R. Altman

Picking Up My Crying Father at the Airport



Never had I watched or created
A scene so memorable as when my father
Sat crying at the airport curb, his ears filled with bloody cotton,
My brother and I watched, more curious than scared,
Our mother helping him into the car.


The flurries fell as slowly as the silent
Businessmen who quietly passed my
Injured father like the woman who knew CPR but rode past the man collapsed
behind his lawnmower, because, well, the ambulance would be there soon.
There was no interest, no time to stop for a crying
Middle-aged man who had just lost
His hearing.


Inside the car, my father leaned forward, heavy against the dashboard,
Holding his ears, my mother, upright and frightened to drive at night,
Holding her tears, like the brave child, chin up, before the injection,
She drives down the icy airport ramp,
Unable to respond to the questions that came
From the back seat.


My father’s crying stopped but his hearing never returned.
A plane bound from Chicago to Columbus depressurized
At 28,000 feet, cruelly propelling
His eardrums toward the stars—an uncommon occurrence
For an uncommon man.




DAVID R. ALTMAN's first book of poetry, Death in the Foyer (Finishing Line Press 2014), earned him a nomination for Georgia Author of the Year.  He is currently working on his second collection and a personal memoir. Altman is the Books & Writers Editor of the Pickens County (Ga.) Progress in Jasper, Georgia. He also writes a blog about tournament bass fishing  He and his wife Lisa reside in Lawrenceville, Ga.



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