letter to my father // letter to my dad

 

Ari Lohr

**trigger warning: mentions of death, suicide, self-harm, alcoholism**

 

to my father:


sometimes, the difference between my boyfriend’s death and your life is simply which fluid the poem flows from, your throat a ballad of bourbon and ink. in some way, both become a bloodbath.

to my dad:

even as a child, my poems have led me to you. in preschool, i started collecting bottle caps. by sixth grade, i had garnered enough metal to raise a bridge, as if my bedroom were a palindrome of iron and steel.

father,


the first time you confessed you were an alcoholic, it was midnight as we were walking across a bridge. you pointed to the water, your naked fist shivering beneath the thin blanket of dew and rain. you said you always stayed at least three feet from a bridge’s edge, so as to tame your temptation to fly. it was the first time in years there was something alike between us.

dad,


on my first day of kindergarten, i brought your own briefcase to school, because i wanted to be just like you. i still recall the walk home: how the briefcase was so heavy i couldn’t carry it, but how buoyant the coarse leather looked beneath your grip.

father,


the last time you took me to the beach, you asked–between sips of whiskey–why i always write about the same trauma using the same metaphors. the truth is, each day, i relive the memory of a boy drowning before i could write him a lifeboat.

dad,


the first time you took me to the beach, i wrote a limerick of seashells and glass bottles, my pen a cocktail of limestone and ash. the drive home, i read the poem aloud, as if that night were an encore of the tide’s restless tempo. i swore that, someday–if i had a boyfriend–i would take him there too.

father,


once, i watched an ocean make a bloodbath of a boy, his lungs swelling like balloons of salt and spit, his breath so buoyant the water could scream a sonnet of latex and wind. once, i watched you swallow five bottles of liquor. how fast lament becomes a liquid. how quickly water becomes a weapon.

   

father,


when you tried to kill yourself,


father,


when i tried to kill myself,


father,


you were upstairs, drafting a couplet of moonshine and smoke, your pen a cocktail of bottle caps and burned bridges.

   

father,


i was downstairs, writing the same poem as always, willing away the water. this boy, how angry i was when he jumped, how i still scribble sonnets wondering why he broke up with me. or why he moved away. or why he killed himself on the anniversary of our first kiss.

father,


i have spent years molding metaphors from memories, all to find some way to tell you i love you.


father,


i still love you.

father,


sometimes, the difference between my boyfriend’s death and your life is simply which fluid the poem flows from. in this way, i am always writing for you both.

   

About the Author

Ari Lohr is a wannabe-astronaut-turned-poet attending university in Boston, MA. He is a Brave New Voices semifinalist, and has performed at various regional slams such as Slamlandia, Portland Poetry Slam, Verselandia, and more. Focusing on the symbiotic relationship between gravity, mental health, queer love, and grief, Ari’s poetry has been published in the Big Windows Review, Kalopsia Lit, and Incandescent Review, and is set to appear in various publications in 2021. He is also the managing editor for the Bitter Fruit Review magazine, and the editor-in-chief of the Jupiter Review. Ari can be found at arilohr.com or @i.o.jupiter on instagram.

 

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