Many Climaxes Coming

On the occasion of my father’s retirement from 37 years of service to the Prince George’s County Public Schools, I delivered this poem.

from beard to bald, pre-K to 6
i swear, there is a time i remember
when my dad had hair
brown like mine
a poet might say he sacrificed it for the kids
(because of the kids)
but we know better

Mr. Tucker, i like that hat
now take it off.
Bill Cosby sweater and sit com morals for every story
come into my office, sit down, let’s talk
K through 12 and beyond
young eyes realize authenticity
respect authority that cares
looking back, it’s more than worth a few gray hairs
and even a few more lost
to find a young mind dares to rethink and reconsider
reactions and see the cost
because of your daily actions

not acting principal anymore
and not just a boss
but a teacher’s teacher
who walks the talk
through more stacks of books and boxes of chalk
than 19 years of storms brought to school over
cross walks with young thoughts looking to
build bridges to a better suited future

you’ve stayed true
from head start to tutor
placing bricks on top of once unsturdy sand
holding staff together
like a half-Jewish Moses
it may seem like it’s been 40 years
but you’re not that old yet
your story’s just about half told
with many climaxes coming 🙂
(yes, i said climaxes coming in a poem about my dad)
((i’m just lucky i don’t have to hear them from my room anymore))
and many toasts like this
through poems and pokes
jabs and jokes
like cigars we roast
the most loved and cherished
we light. you shine.
tonight we dine for you,
dad, brother, uncle, husband, teacher, principal, principled thinker,
new grandfather, occasional drinker, and friend
lawn mower, smoke blower, Bahama island goer, you
want to seem like an all-knower sometimes boat rower
pushing us forward

in lakes
your touch, like ores
making waves and
influencing a fluid course
of grassland golfers
looking for a fair way
a proper way
a clean and just way
with shaved head and earring … it seems like a Mr. Clean way
to get the job done
but he’s a little more bad ass than that, so
you can call him Mr. T
Thomas J. Tucker
the father to me and these other weird kids over here
but we’re not his only kids
he must’ve had hundreds, or thousands of kids
over the last two decades
whom he called his own
called and visited their homes
because home came to school today
on Jamal’s face, on Erika’s clothes, in Brandon’s behavior
the lessons became clear
every year

it’s gonna be different now Mr. T,
the parents, the teachers, the kids . . .
they’re not playing golf
and i don’t think you’re going soft
by retiring
you’re just taking a few weeks off

but you’ll always be our bad-ass dad
our Mr. T principal
our half-Jewish Moses
mo-hawk or beard or goatee and bald
smiling and happy to be here
walking the course
pushing us forward
rowing and leaving ripples in the horizon
you’re still climbing
with many climaxes to come.

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