The pencils were greasy,
and the 50s drafting kit and airbrush
held the abandon of cold machinery,
objects from a time
when I did not know my father best,
and he stirred no fear and beat out
no quiet, drunk on straight vodka
and cursing Walt Disney for not hiring him.

He boxed it all up to rot,
and no one was permitted to move
when he rolled out the projector
with cartoon reels snuck from somewhere --
Donald drilled by a bulldog sergeant
across the blank drapes of the living room.
I thought my father was teaching us
about his army days, barking commands
and shit on a shingle, quarters bounced on beds,
his eyes fixed dead on the flicker.

He was not so gifted, an art hack.
Except for illustrations of freeway accidents
and ads for sexual dysfunction products,
I had never seen his hands
create anything more graceful
than an engine assembly, and once, a tuna sandwich.

His last Halloween when I finally managed
to color within the lines,
he grunted down bedside me, wordless,
lifted a sheet of paper
and broke off a black crayon.
He methodically sketched a haunted house,
and I had never seen anything so horrifying:
not the graves and demons, but the thought
that he could do what I never expected
bloomed in me, a nightmare
sharp to the boniest detail,
down to my face
expectant in the dark window.