Taos Man 2
“Taos Man” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

“Forgiving Our Fathers” poem by Dick Lourie

Maybe in a dream; he’s in your power
you twist his arm but you’re not sure it was
he that stole your money you feel calmer
and you decide to let him go free

or he’s the one (as in a dream of mine)
I must pull from the water but I never
knew it or wouldn’t have done it until
I saw the street-theater play so close up
I was moved to actions I’d never before taken

maybe for leaving us too often or
forever when we were little maybe
for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous because there seemed
never to be any rage there at all

for marrying or not marrying our mothers
for divorcing or not divorcing our mothers
and shall we forgive them for their excesses
of warmth or coldness shall we forgive them

for pushing or leaning for shutting doors
for speaking only through layers of cloth
or never speaking or never being silent

in our age or in theirs or in their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it –
if we forgive our fathers what is left.

Taos Man

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.


    1. It is an interesting poem isn’t it Gerard? It was featured in the film “Smoke Signals”. Sad commentary of Indian reservation life . Dick Lourie has been with the University of Massachusetts since 1985 as well as playing with a rock and roll band.


  1. I found the poem really disturbing — not so much so that I stopped reading, but still: sad, and despondent. I was thinking only of individual fathers, across cultures. Putting it in reservation culture gives it even more of an edge, and expands the layers.

    Above all else, it makes me remember my own father, and give thanks that I had such a good one. I so wish he had lived longer than he did. He always a good traveling companioin, and he would love computers!


  2. It does make one think doesn’t it? The alcohol consumption on reservations can be appalling, as it is everywhere in every culture) and is the cause of such misery and loss of family. I feel so very fortunate in having had such a wonderful father, and husband.
    We had recently watched “Smoke Signals”, a movie by Sherman Alexie which had the poem as it’s closing, and I remembered that I had Dick Lourie’s book somewhere.
    I have, as you know, had such a connection with some of the Indian tribes, and seen some of the problems alcohol has caused.


  3. Thanks so much Janet. It is a moving poem, though disturbing in the way we hope never happens. Such a difficult life for so many to live like that. It makes me forever grateful for the wonderful man who was my father.


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