Adam Tavel

My Name in Sticks
November 29, 2015 Tavel Adam

My Name in Sticks

 for my father


From the shallow sledding hill I gathered up
the straightest twigs. I snapped the pile across
my knee to spell it out atop a stoop
that was, until the spring before, my throne

to hold high court and hose the wayward pups
and ragamuffin twerps spurred on by the loss
of baseballs in our onion grass. Through croup
and flu my calls gunked up our rented phone

and through your bedroom blinds I saw them stalled,
my first grade autumn red on your machine.
Years later, drunk, you cackled at the sprawl
November wind had made of all but D.

I pedaled twelve blocks back to brave the belt
your woman used to write your name in welts.

Adam Tavel is the author of five books of poetry, including two new collections: Green Regalia (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2022) and Sum Ledger (Measure Press, 2022). His third book, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). His recent poems appear in North American Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, and Western Humanities Review, among others. You can find him online at