One day I will ask my mother about my dad

and she will lie. She will tell me Daddy is in the other room

shining his boots and I will wink my little head and scramble

two twine-legs into the other room to ask Dad why he shines his boots.


I will say dad what for? He will smile and press his large hand

to mat my whirling curls. He will offer me

the faded rag and I will help him shine his boots.

I will shine those boots like I’ve shined boots all my life.


One day my mother will kill my daddy.

She will tell me he is not your father. I will not

understand and I will cry. He won’t be in the room while my

face dampens the waist of her dress

because I know no one will shine daddy’s boots.


My mother will show me a picture.

I will not see myself. I will say, no until the picture will die.

She will put the picture away and knot me in her arms.

I will mourn like I know what death means.


She will take me to a park in Teaneck to meet my father.

My arms will cross over my seatbelt for two hours

and my eyes, like billows, will puff and swell.

I will say, not–my–daddy and I will want to kill him.


My father will wait underneath a tree.

I will unfasten my Velcro-strap shoes. My lips will salt,

my noise will bubble, and I will sprawl my body like a wet bird.

I will scream daddy and the man will smile. 



" 'Patricide and Boot Shines' is a poem about the moment when I discovered my father was actually my step-father. The poem also addresses the first time I met my biological father. I tried to recreate that child's voice, and his inability to understand the difference between loss, death, and the two men."

Davon Loeb is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University. His work has been featured in Portland Review, Nomans Journal, Parable Press, MenoPause Press, PaleHouse, Midwest Literary Magazine, Penny Ante Feud, and Heavy Hands Ink, among others. Davon lives in New Jersey and is an English teacher.