Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso (1874)Paul Fericano at nine years old in SF (circa 1960)
Escaping Criticism
by Paul Fericano

1.

The strange picture of the startled boy
Stepping out of the frame and fleeing the scene

Is torn from a book and thumb-tacked to the wall
Above the bathroom sink next to the mirror

This is you my father says buckling his belt
A warning shot aimed at his second son

The little monkey in a disappearing act
Who climbs out second-story bathroom windows

Shimmies up drainpipes and sits alone on rooftops
Late at night to escape the rage of lovers

Screaming and throwing ashtrays and souvenirs
Against the walls that always talk back

2.

I brush my teeth I comb my hair I stare
At this other me this nexus boy

This doppelganger kid who leaps and bounds
From his world into mine

Unaware perhaps like me of what there is
To see or be on this or any other side

Where fathers say our names and sound
The way all fathers do when they dream

3.

One night I surprise us both
I sneak back in through the window

Like a tiny thief caught in the act
And there he sits on the toilet reading Popular

Mechanics his face so startled by my entrance
That I see the wound of his disappointment

The locked bathroom holds me now
There is nowhere to go but into his line of fire

I take the brown leather blows like daily penance
With time enough to flee again tomorrow

On the other side of all this noise and deception
My mother bangs on the door with small fists

PAINTING: “Escaping Criticism” by Pere Borrell del Caso (1874).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at nine years old in San Francisco (circa 1960).

fericano

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Paul Fericano
’s poetry and prose have appeared since 1970 in such diverse outlets as The Wormwood Review, Second Coming, Jean’s Journal, Saturday Night Live, Vagabond, The Mas Tequila Review, Mother Jones, Poetry Now, Wine Rings, The Café Review, Paul Krassner’s The Realist, and Krokodil (Moscow), Punch (London) and Charlie Hebdo (Paris). In 1983 his work was honored with both the Ambrose Bierce Prize (San Francisco) and the Prix de Voltaire (Paris) for upholding the traditions of socio-political satire. His latest collection of poems, The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press, 2015), was nominated for a National Book Award.