Saturday, February 14, 2009


89. You woulda been 89. And
you woulda seen last month what I saw.
Sitting amidst those other great Black patriots
from Tuskegee, you woulda seen the

African man, the American man,
the wise family man raise his right hand
and become your Commander-In-Chief.
Oh, I'm sure you were there--

high atop your perch on the other side,
taking in such history. Your other
son fixed your fireplace today.
Lit a raging fire in the room we made your

own. I'm playing Joshua Redman and
Shirley Horn on your stereo.
Just like Mama, your other son
thinks the bass is too loud.

Ever since you left us, seems like
everybody in the spotlight got
pancreatic cancer. Kinda like
when you buy a new car and suddenly

everybody seems to be driving the one you just
bought. I don't need to name names. Some of them
are already with you across the river. Your other son
gave me a Cupid card today. I had to leave

your room, run upstairs.
In a haze, I changed our bed.
Put on the wedding-white,
fit-for-a-king sheets my sister

gave us for Christmas. Suppose
that's what true marriage is:
a psychic commitment to
its utter unbreakability. Can't

hide. It's bout as bad as it's ever been. I'm
sure you'll show me what to do soon. Maybe even show
him. Till then, your sons soldier on, familiar
strangers across a room crowded with rebuke. Wish

I could hear your old wise voice anyway. African
man. American man. Family man. But I can't yet
play back a single video of you to hear it.
Happy birthday, Daddy. You woulda been 89.


Anonymous said...

Craig, I read this the day you posted it; wanted to respond but not sure. Kept coming back to it, and the pain and question is undeniable. That saddens me, and want to offer my prayers... and I hope Daddy offers his voice in guidance.

Craig Hickman said...

Thanks for reaching out, lexus. Prayers appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful. My favorite uncle died 8 years ago this month of pancretic cancer just days before his birthday. I think of him often this time of year.

Craig Hickman said...


I appreciate your sharing that. I really do. Family is everything, no?

muriel may campbell said...

Hey Craig,
We love, love the new version of your "89".
W just received a letter from one of our sons and I opened it right after re-reading "89"
He opened with a quote from a book he is reading, coincidentally joining in the discussion by reminding us of the truth that returns again and again.
Matt is reading "Broken"by William Cope Moyers, who opens with a quote that really touched him.

"A disciple asked the Rabbi "why does the Torah tell us to place these words upon your hearts?
Why does it not tell us to place these holy words "in" our hearts?"

The Rabbi answers, "It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts, so we place them on top of our hearts.
And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in."

Your Daddy lives in you and all who are willing to add his story into that place where love is nurtured.
We raised a glass for your Dad and a toast to the Tuskegee men of honor. Your Dad has been heard by all whom have taken the time to read your words of love and honor

rikyrah said...

this was beautiful, craig. Thank you for sharing this with us. And though I am late, I hope that it wasn't too hard for you.