[Note: When I started this project, I had every intention of posting my father’s work intermittently, from time to time, in a completely random order, when I came across things I thought were worth sharing. It was never planned to seek out high subscriber numbers or generate revenue. My only intention was to share his work with a larger audience simply because he didn’t live long enough to gain access otherwise because the Internet was only just starting to be a “thing” when he passed. As we writers can attest, sometimes the shit you’re working on takes on a life of its own, like a spooked horse on a trail ride in the woods, and all you can do is center your weight, cinch up on the reins ever so gently, drop your heels, hold on, and enjoy the ride. Consider the following entry accordingly.]

I won’t tell you it’s mandatory that you read the previous entry “Reliably Unreliable” before you read this one, but, as Matthew McConaughey would say, “It’d be cooler if you did.” It would also help put this story in context.

As I was putting that essay together, I came across some stuff I hadn’t paid much attention to before, leading me through memories long buried. By the time I was done with that piece, it became clear to me that the larger story here is not about some unknown alcoholic poet who wasn’t half bad at busting rhymes; there are countless Millions of people in the world with incredible talent who drink and drug and self-destruct, squandering beauty and wonder they might have otherwise brought forward to make the world a better place. The only thing that separates my father’s story from so many countless other broken people is that he left behind someone who kept the receipts and holds no grudge against the way he chose to live his life.

The thing about broken people that is universally true- no matter the specific story- is that one or more things happened that they never fully get past. I don’t need to belabor the point but just think about your favorite celebrity who fell prey to their demons and never made it back. Singers, actors, professional athletes, and politicians are the easiest ones to think of first, but each of us has the capacity to do amazing things and wind up breaking into a million pieces under the pressure of it.

In the case of my father, a complete unknown to the bulk of the human race, his story is no different than countless millions of people who were born into dysfunctional families, seek comfort and escape through drugs and alcohol, and perpetuate the cycle as they have kids of their own. It only took him five years and a second child to realize he couldn’t handle being a husband and a father, and he even told me once that he knew my brother and I would be better off without his influence ruining our lives before we even had a fighting chance. He wasn’t wrong, but it was only after his death that I came to understand that he could never outrun the guilt he would carry with him for the rest of his life for having left.

As I have already stated, I inherited a box after my father’s death that I honestly never looked into for a good 10 or 15 years. What I found when I finally did open the box inspired this page, and several of those poems have been transposed and published. One of the pieces of paper in that box is the sheet music for a song I always knew he had written and had copyrighted, but it had never been recorded and made public as far as I know.

For as much as he told me about his love of writing and his lifelong commitment to alcohol and country music, I never knew that his copyrighted song was about his lyrical take on leaving his family behind. Ultimately, since I can’t read very much of anything terribly well, let alone musical notes and words broken up in accordance with each of the syllables, I reached out to everyone’s friend Jonathan Potter Potter Poems).

Jonathan is an incredible Poet. He also has an incredible voice and has been quietly amazing, the rear times he does it, with some singing and guitar plucking to go along. With his poetry. I asked him if he would be willing to take a stab at transposing the text and putting the lyrics to music. He graciously and enthusiastically accepted the challenge and did an amazingly incredible job… I will be forever in his debt- thank you, @jonathanpotter, for helping me get this piece of the story to a larger audience 🙂

For the record, after listening to his rendition – and the words I couldn’t make out on my own – I leaked a little.

Lonely Woman at the Window – Richard C. Poff
Lonely woman at the window
See the tears that fill her eyes
Children standing there beside her
She won’t let them see her cry
She’ll be putting them to bed soon
Then the tears will surely fall
He’s not home again tonight now
And he didn’t even call
Maybe you don’t see her there as I do
Maybe I’m the only one
Who can see this lonely woman
And can know the harm I’ve done
Long ago this lonely woman
Waited there each night for me
Now she’s gone and lost forever
Leaving me this misery
Lonely woman at the window
Just what are you waiting for?
Lonely woman at the window
Will you haunt me evermore?


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