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my father never took me to the races
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my father never took me to the races

          my father never took me to the races
          he took me to baseball games
          but he never knew the player's names
          his love for that game died before i was born
          he never explained how he grew up in brooklyn
          rooted for the yankees and had his heart broken
          when the giants moved to san francisco
          at least he cared about baseball once
          i could see that when we went
 
          one year for my birthday
          he took me to a basketball game
          the knicks were headed to the championship
          and he fell asleep during the game
          he really didn't care about that at all
 
          i loved baseball and basketball
          not just the mets and the knicks
          not just my favorite players
          i loved the games themselves
          i read everything i could
          studied the box scores
          understood what happened
          what should have happened
          i knew what was going to happen
          i never wanted to be an athlete
          i wanted to be the game
 
          my father never took me to the races
          his gambling was hidden in the corner
          with the rest of the dirty laundry
          he should have understood me
          and known the racing form
          would read to me like a book of poems
          he should have known that 
          when you look at a past performance the right way
          you become the horserace

          once when i had nothing to do
          my father gave me his copy of
          the old man and the sea
          when i read it in one sitting
          he asked me questions about it
          he seemed to think my answers were important
          he's still waiting for me to write his novel
          i wonder if my father knows why  
          hemingway stopped going to the races
          he said it took too much work to be good
          my excuse for not writing a novel
 
          when my parents sold the house
          i took my father's clothing to the drop
          and in the pocket of his coat
          i found a pile of unused OTB slips
          old ones from when you had to write down your bets
          i carried my father's bet slips with me for months
          memories of the house i did not grow up in
-d



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