Portrait of a Father at the Beach
by Tommy Welty

The eagle on your back stretches its wings
while your little girl sings she
hangs her doll on an altar stick —
its lifeless blue stare over gray seas
watches and wonders while
seven thousand gulls
ascend over seas and alight
on the sand where you and yours
have lounged for hours,
your legs buried to the
twin lightning strike stains
on your calves like pistons
tossing the Frisbee with your son
laughing — Your twisted cross
twisting a mirthless dance and
your son throws rocks at birds.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a picture of my son and I on his first birthday at the same beach from the poem but on a different day. (Photo by Samantha Jeet, samanthajeet.comMay 2016, La Jolla, California.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For National Poetry Month, I was writing a daily poem as a portrait of someone I knew or encountered over the course of the day. We were living in San Diego and having a beach day, my son and a kid about his age were playing and we had struck up small talk with the kid’s family. I was disoriented though when their father arrived, took off his shirt, and displayed a full back tattoo featuring a tattoo of a symbolical hateful icon.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tommy Welty is a writer and musician from a suburb close enough to Chicago to say he’s from Chicago though he’s never actually resided in Chicago. Tommy lives there with his wife, Alyssa, and son, Atticus Mac, who was named after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird but not from Go and Set a Watchman. His poetry has been featured at The Curator and he writes about Christianity and poetry at tommywelty.wordpress.com.