Any dream, as long as it begins 

             with treacherous. With mercy 

                          borne back & aching from the 

              fingertips inward. If I'm lying 

through my teeth, at least I still

           have the long way home. If this 

                      is where my father ends, at least

           I still have his hands for ransom. 

I say you are every reason I cannot 

             blink anymore & he says you can't 

                        blame me for all of this gasoline. It's 

              enough for the knife & the 

tongue. After him there are no 

            ways to make dusk small again.

                       No method to serenade grief

             soft enough for the streets to 

swallow. You can't undo glory.

            You can't force a home to  

                       unwind & fix itself. My mother 

            tells me that my father only yells 

because he is afraid. Finally,

           something we have in common.

                       I see the hurt in his eyes when

            I flinch as he tries to hug me & 

I want to say it's not your fault but 

          all that comes out is I swear there 

                      was a time when I didn't starve in 

          this language. Dislocation in car 

window & my father spins 

          creation on the rooftops. All

                      my little achings with no sleep

           to dampen. So many things I 

invent to avoid rescue. My 

           father comes from a long 

                      time ago, sings hemorrhage of 

           black & human. His eyes like 

a night helpless in forgetting.

            I say these are dangerous times to 

                        be a daughter. He says enough

            with the metaphors, you're making 

your mother sad. I speak these 

             vowels without oxygen to 

                        spark a murder. Fury is just 

             as human as fear & every girl 

I've ever brought home tells 

           me I smile in the same way

                       as my father. I'm beginning 

            to understand why, even in 

sleep, all hospital parking lots 

            remain full of hope: home is 

                       not my father's hands, but 

            rather, the light they reflect

when burning. 









War Story With My Father

Topaz Winters is a poet, essayist, editor, creative director, speaker, actress, & multidisciplinary artist. Among her internationally award-winning & critically-acclaimed creative credits include working as the author of three books (most recently poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, Math Paper Press, 2017), writer & star of the short film SUPERNOVA (dir. Ishan Modi, 2017), creative director & editor-in-chief of Half Mystic Press (est. 2015), speaker of the TEDx talk Healing Is a Verb (2017), & creator of the digital art installation Love Lives Bot (est. 2018).


First published in Sundog Lit.