white sweater
poem by  
  keith  o'connor
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My poem tales are evocative micro-expressions of emotional responses to life. They are written with strong use of the first person so that you the reader will have the opportunity to experience them  emotionally. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is due to linguistic characteristics of the english language. 
white sweater 

my father was under 
the sad impression 
that he - my father - actually owned 
what he thought he owned 
what he had purchased 
purchased with his hard earned money 
earned at his 
five and one-half day 
per week  job 

with my older brother around 
no one really owned anything 
one morning 
a morning like any other 
except on that morning 
my older brother decided 
was to be one of his dress-up days 
and he would use dad's new 
white turtle-neck sweater 
for that special effect 
my dad didn't have much money 
with having to feed six kids 
he never drank 
like many father's I saw 
but every once in a while 
he would treat himself 
to an article of clothing 
this time he 
bought himself 
a white turtle-neck sweater 
for casual wear 

spring - summer - fall - winter 
my father  always wore 
a shirt and tie 
this white turtle-neck sweater 
was a 
major departure 
in his dress style 

my father was a man 
of the 1920's 
his winter formal wear 
has to this day impressed my memory 
black suit 
white shirt 
dark tie 
black overcoat 
gold thread initialed white silk scarf 
light grey hat with black silk band 
light grey spats 
over shinny black shoes 
even in the 1950's 
my father 
when dressed up 
he looked ready 
to party with the 
long vanished 
of the 1920's and 30's 

since dad was at work 
couldn't see what was happening 
my brother would just borrow 
the sweater for a while 
dad would never know 
no harm done 

on with the sweater 
then onto the couch 
where my brother sat 
in a pose that mimicked 
some character 
from a Saturday morning movie 
at the Francois Theater 
on Dalhousie St. 

my brother had 
entered the world 
of his imagination 
turning himself  
into a "something" 

"you are a coward" 

I wasn't sure who 
was speaking 
my brother or 
his new identity 
so I said nothing 
"yeah you're a coward" 
"if you had guts" 
"you'd punch me" 
"right on the nose" 
"you're scared" 
"a sissy - like a girl" 
"come-on punch me" 
"see you're chicken" 
I stood there 
with my arms 
dangling by my sides 
I was a very skinny 
little boy - not very healthy looking 
no history of violent aggression 
I just stood there 
saying nothing 
"you haven't got the guts" 
"chicken - chicken" 
ok I said to myself 
closing my right fist 
as tight as I could 

and  suddenly 
without warning 
drove my tightly clenched fist 
into his nose 
right where he was pointing 
and saying 
"hit me hit me - right here" 
I didn't feel anything 
my fist didn't hurt 
I was surprised by my action 
it was as though 
something else inside me 
gave the order 
I saw his dark red blood 
come rushing out of his nose 
his hands 
jumped to his face 
covering his nose 
he bent over 
letting blood drops 
fall onto  the floor 
he worried about 
blood drops on dad's sweater 

he turned 
ran upstairs 
to the bathroom 
as he ran 
I heard him mutter threats 
of revenge 
"I'll get you for this" 

he told me to punch him 
I did just what he asked 
now he changes his mind 
he had a habit of saying  
one thing and then doing the opposite 

I had this nice feeling 
of triumph 
of the gladiator 
defeating a powerful 
noble opponent 

I decided it would not 
be wise of me to hang around 
waiting for him to come down 
he was my older brother 
I knew he could 
easily give me a beating 
I didn't like being hurt 
I didn't relish losing 
this feeling of triumph 
so after puffing up my chest 
taking a few victory 
struts back and forth 
across the room 
and just about the time 
I felt he was ready 
to come down stairs 
I decided 
that it was retreat time 
I would leave the battle field 
the place of my memorable victory 
and return 
when dad was home 

when I did return 
and when things settled down 
to my surprise 
he never attempted to give me 
that revenge beating 
he had muttered 
on his bloody 
run up the stairs 
nor did he ever again 
taunt me 

Keith O'Connor 
2001 Dec 15 
ottawa canada 

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