Nothing to Show For it

When I was growing up,
My father would tell me
That nobody was gonna
Give you nothin’ for free

And if you wanted anything,
You had to get off your
Ass and work for it

And he got up every
Morning to go to his
Janitorial job

And he would come home
And tell me to study hard,
That I don’t want to clean
Toilets for the rest of my life

And one night as I was
Sleeping I was awoken
By my father’s voice

He lay in bed in the next
Room, it must have been
3am

And my father’s voice
Cried out: I’m nothing

I wasn’t sure if it was
His voice, or someone
else’s, as it was 3am and
I was half asleep

And I heard the muffled
Voice of my father and
His woman for a while

And my father was like
A lot of fathers and I was
Like a lot of sons

I closed my eyes
And fell back
Asleep

And my father said that
If you worked, you should
Have something to show for it

An ice box
A radio
A car
A can of shoe polish

Something

And as hard as
He worked, I still
Heard that voice in the
Middle of the night that
Cried out, “I’m nothing’

I guess deep down he
Felt he didn’t have
Anything to show for it

And eventually he quit
That janitorial job
And moved to Hawaii

He found his purpose
In the thick bamboo forest
That was always in his mind

He learned the Filipino martial
Art of eskrima which utilizes
Empty hand techniques and
Sticks of bamboo

And he also learned wood
Carving, carving his life into
Wood, telling his story and the
Story of his family

And I still remember him
Crying out, I’m nothing, in
The middle of the night

And I finally wake seeing
That he has everything to
Show for it

© 2015 Tony Robles

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