When he was young, my father sang
on the radio in Braddock.
He cut a record and dreamed of Broadway.
He dreamed of sleek suits, silver boxes
of fat cigars, the best bourbon.
He sang "Begin the Beguine," a song
Cole Porter wrote drunk at the Paris Ritz.
"Begin the Begin," my father called it,
in the years before he got married.
Then he grew up, wised up, buckled down.
He worked in the mills. "Face reality,"
he said. "This isn't a dream world."
Even after he retired he wore work clothes. His skin showed through shirts stained black with graphite.
"I can never remember it,"
Cole Porter said of that song.
Lori Jakiela is an associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh's Greensburg campus and in the MFA program at Chatham University (firstname.lastname@example.org). Her collection of mostly narrative poems about her former career as a flight attendant, "Spot the Terrorist," was just published by Turning Point Press.