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My Father's Horns
by
Karla Huston


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Saturday nights he’d jam the van
with the upright silver bass and the curvy
sousaphone, mouthpieces carried

in his pockets to keep them warm.
He’d pick up the guys and head
for Iowa dance halls, play big-band style

and pack the house. Back then,
the gang played standards,
some oom-pa-pas and little waltzes.

The dance floor was packed to the rafters
with suits and circle skirts;
sometimes a pretty woman sang.

“It’s getting a little dry
and dusty up here,” Jerry’d say,
and beers and whiskey sodas appeared.
 
My father drove home after,
half asleep, a little jazzed;
his throat choked with smoke
 
and lips bruised and sore.
The horns, their big bells silent,
settled once more in the back,
 
those Saturday night beauties—the ones
he held tight, the ones he crooned to,
my mother keeping time at home.
 
                 © by Karla Huston.
                 Used with the author’s permission.
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Karla Huston lives in Appleton, Wisconsin. Author of six chapbooks of poetry, most recently An Inventory of Lost Things (Centennial Press, 2009), her book, Flight Patterns, won the Main Street Rag chapbook contest in 2003. She has earned numberous writing awards, including residencies from the Ragdale Foundation and Bread Loaf, and her work has appeared in many journals. Learn more about Karla at www.karlahuston.com.


New comments are closed for now.
69Dorcas:
The life of a musician, that's all.
Posted 06/15/2012 07:06 AM
pwax:
You had me as soon as I read the word "jam". And I can see it all. Phyllis
Posted 06/14/2012 04:35 PM
Ralph Murre:
Karla, I just want to run around showing people your poems and saying "Look at this! I know her!"
Posted 06/14/2012 08:27 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
This poem is good on so many different levels. What I like most, however, is that it transports me to another time and place, and it resonates within me as I remember my father and his many loves.
Posted 06/14/2012 08:16 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Really captures an era. Enjoyed it!
Posted 06/14/2012 08:06 AM
Gary Busha:
Well constructed and good word choice in this one. Good to see a flurry of Karla's work appearing.
Posted 06/14/2012 07:53 AM
wordsmith:
Karla: this was much of Chuck's life in his younger days. But your last line was what brought your wonderful poem home to me. Thanks, Mandi
Posted 06/14/2012 07:50 AM
mimi:
just the best, Karla--so much love and music in this piece... Sharon Auberle
Posted 06/14/2012 07:31 AM
Charly:
Karla: Love this one. Today would be father's 114th birthday, and so this poem about your own dad is very special!
Posted 06/14/2012 06:51 AM
LisaV:
A real goodie!
Posted 06/14/2012 05:49 AM
KevinArnold:
What a fine poem. It takes a powerful poet to present such a nuanced snapshot of her father, driven by love. And the poet, too, driven by love.
Posted 06/14/2012 05:36 AM


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