The cash I don’t wire,
the numbers I don’t dial.
The marriage that didn’t survive
the summer. The version
where I’m blameless and the one
where I again abandoned
what was difficult.
– from “My Father at 23, on the Highway Side of an Overpass Fence”
You become the narrator of Edgar Kunz’s debut collection, Tap Out (Mariner/HMH books). You can’t help it. You lose yourself in the imagery and the storyline (because, yes, even poetry collections can have storylines). These became my stories, my childhood, and my father, and my friends, and the way I took in everything around me – good, bad, ugly – and tried to make it better with age.
This is the tale of gutting it out until you think you want to tap out. It’s a glimmer of hope because, damn it, you’ve worked too hard for there to not at least be a glimmer; it’s the tale of father and son and friends who get lost in the realities of the world. It’s the stamp lines and dirt clogged knuckles and reasons to just deal with the bullshit as it comes, and make it mean something.
Eventually there is the letting go. Eventually there is an end to the money, to the conversations, to the marriages, to the friendships, families, and lives. Eventually, we all tap out; the hope, at least, is that when we do, we can look back and be proud of the fight.