3 AM, stumbling home from the bowling alley

singing Okinawan field songs he heard as a child

or soulfully belting out Rat Pack classics,

Granpda lay on his back on the dewy Bermuda grass

the Budweiser rising like fetid steam out of his skin.

My brother would rise from the sofa

and go outside to round him up

like a wayward steer on a country road

so his braying wouldn't wake the whole cul-de-sac.

Other times, stepping out of the taxi in the dark

his eyes would flash oni fire at a kindly offered word —

The jizo of Pearl City scowling under bushy brows —

he'd shove your steadying hands away, cursing, snapping.

Grandma bailed him out so often over the years

Hiding her shame under her perfectly curled bangs

Not looking at the desk sergeant, who, too,

Wouldn't meet her eyes.

Mom and Dad never spoke of the lost decade

where everyone slept lightly.

The kids silently wondered if all grandpas were like this;

We never spoke the words.

We knew.

Talk story

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