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my father turned 80 this past November & I wrote him this sonnet. “Butter in is not the same as butter on,” is what he used to say to my mother when she used to chide him for putting a pad of butter on her homemade pastry, which was butter-based. & of course, he was right.
(for my father, on his 80th birthday)
“butter in is not the same
as butter on.” this i heard
from you all through my happy
childhood. from you i learned
to play piano, picking
out “the way you look tonight”
as you played accompaniment.
that day you taught me how to mix
a perfect dry martini.
the fun of making waffles.
from you i learned logic, ethics & law.
most of all from you i learned
you work as hard as you can.
& you don’t make deals with god.