Imaginary Dad

                                  Was so imaginary   he ceased to exist


he wasn’t sleeping   in a treehouse    or stalking the woods


in fatigues    cheeks smeared green    with camouflage grease


a knife between his teeth    like I had envisioned him


he was just a married guy   



in a small town    near a dozen   of my made-up cousins


kin so distant    they didn’t even know    to miss me


all their lives


                           I’d picture them


fumbling in their pockets    through loose change


patting their pants   in search of something


left behind   all the time    never knowing


what it was

                       or what it was like


to eat Twizzlers    while watching   Apocalypse Now


in a darkened theater   on Bleecker St.   

                                                                           to think


each time a soldier    appeared on screen    Now, there’s a dad


if I ever saw one   because of course   they’d seen one


he was nothing like that    and he belonged to me

Bibliographical info

Tina Cane’s “Imaginary Dad” Copyright ©2023 by Tina Cane. Source “Imaginary Dad” ” from Poetry Foundation (February 2023),

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