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Daddy Came Home to the War

One year after a segregated air force
discharged my father, honest and faithful

service completed, he married my mother.
No shotguns or dishonor, just doing right,

onlookers all bearing witness with one eye
open. So many of the flames in this life

flare and extinguish at once, as the dream
of sporting wings, flyboy, awakens a fireman,

or a man becomes husband and father
on the same day. He puts out fires

where there are fires, takes note of how they burn.


Lillien Waller is the editor of American Ghost: Poets on Life After Industry (Stockport Flats, 2011). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has received a Cave Canem Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize nomination, among other honors. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.