my father gave me cancer.

i can still feel him,

under my bedroom window,

smoking his cigarette.

(i moved out years ago,

i live on the eighth floor)

the smoke,

wafts up from the ground,

all nicotine and gray, hissing and shouting.

i cough, as the smoke comes in the window-

it's my own fault, really.

i should have shut the window.

(should have shut up, should have looked away

the one time i opened up, he sure loved that,

didn't he?)

i can feel

the black growing in my lungs,

wanting to escape, to shout, to punch the wall and throw the chair.

there is no chemo for this type of cancer,

no radiation, no medicine,

that can get rid of the tar crawling

through my chest, up my trachea, out of my mouth.

they say deep breaths help, but

that just makes the black itch worse.

the cloud of cigarette smoke

sings, below my ceiling fan-

(he always wanted it still,

always wanted me to be still)

a lullaby, one my father sang

before the cigarettes took over his lips.

i hate that lullaby, the

soft words, the sweet melody.

it is not my father.

my father is thud, scrape, scream, shout, dipshit fuckface faggot.

he is not soft, sweet, eighth note arpeggios, moonshadow moonshadow.

the cigarette smoke settles over me,

like a blanket,

when i had been young and kicked off the covers.

it smothers me, whether i like it or not, and

i can't breathe through the smoke,

through the chunks of tar spotting my lungs,

through the india ink filling my lungs

and dry-land drowning.

(my father taught me to swim

by throwing me off the dock, into the lake-

i couldn't swim, or breathe, but i couldn't drown, either)

my father gave me cancer.

people let me hate him, when he gave me cancer.

they let me call him shithead, fuckface, useless

while i hack up the black lumps

of what used to be my lungs,

and i can't breathe for the choking of it.