When Is Daddy Coming Home

Jim Neill Poetry

by Doug Jennette  

When is Daddy coming home?

He went to work, and now he’s gone. 

Before he left he tucked  me in 

and pulled the sheet up under my chin

and kissed me once on top of my head-

now I’m hearing people say 

he’s dead.

I heard some cars out in the street 

and saw blue lights from my window seat,

and the sound of feet up the wooden stairs 

left me feeling awful scared.

The man in blue said Daddy ran a red light 

while on the way in the night 

to his job at the freight yard. 

And the thing in Daddy’s hand looked a lot like

a gun, but turned out to be his lunch box instead-

so now he’s dead.

Momma’s voice was all loud and hurt, she cried

out, saying “ya’ll killed my man, and a father too.

What’s a woman supposed to do?”

When Momma comes into my room, she picks

me up, and holds me close and tight,

and her body shakes as her tears fall down 

on top of my head, 

where Daddy’s kiss still lives.

I’m a boy of four 

and don’t know how to help Momma more, 

except be nice and don’t ask too much about Daddy. 

‘Cause when I do, Momma cries and shakes, 

and I lie awake at night 

wondering what it will take 

to make things right, again. I miss him. 

Momma says I’m the man now, 

but I don’t know how

or even what that means, except

maybe that I don’t run red lights 

or carry a lunch box,

or I might end up gone and dead

like Daddy. 

June, 2020