One hundred and eighteen of our finest American poets pay eloquent homage to their fathers and the broader concept of fatherhood in this loving anthology.

In this splendid collection both daughters and sons introduce us and pay heartfelt tribute to their fathers. Whether writing of fathers who were heroes or anti-heros, defenders or pacifists, those who went away suddenly or those who reappeared after a long period of time, the poets here cast the net wide to harvest the infinite variety of the father-and-child relationship. This moving anthology includes:

Raymond Carver's "The Trestle", Gwendolyn Brooks's "In Honor of David Anderson Brooks, My Father", Rita Dove's "Grape Sherbert", Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays", Donald Justice's "Men at Forty", Hayden Carruth's "Words for My Daughter from the Asylum", Maxine Kumin's "My Father's Neckties", "Robert Bly's "My Father at Eighty-Fiver," Marjorie Maddox's "Old Tunes."

Old Tunes

            Oh where have you been, Billy boy, Billy boy?

            I have been to seek a wife; she's the joy of my life. . . .

When the road dipped deep

and sky took over the car,

plastering each side of the family 'wagon

with southern Ohio,

and my father's broad grin

caught on the towns of Chillicothe and Portsmouth

while they sucked us in with their steel-mill smoke stacks,

small-town diners, and steeples slanted enough to let

the sun roll down and into the notes

that cluttered the front seat,

we three kids leaned and shoved and grabbed

at my father's songs to make them ours.


Bubbling "Down by the Old Mill Stream,"

we stopped to peel our socks,

wave them at passing trucks,

small prophecies of our victory

as we took the first steps

into the icy wet of his childhood

creek, not once letting go

of the wide hope

of his arm.


And later,

my great aunt's pastry stuck

at the lowest parts of our stomachs,

an awful weight,

we spit out "'Neath the Crust of the Old Apple Pie"

and other melodic jokes

strung on the shaky chords

of my father's voice

from dance halls, summer camps, nights in the navy,

where he dreamed of the slow step

and fingers, smooth as a seductive dance,

that he'd finally find

years later on my mother.


Who was why,

those weeks in the car,

he bellowed and beamed

and zigzagged us into the summers

that smelled and tasted of song:

boogie woogie and be bop, but mostly the cool blue

of Sinatra and Gershwin,

his one hand gliding across the wheel

the other, over and over throughout our lives,

tapping his syncopated love notes

on the open heart of her palm.