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Thirteen Meeting My Father For The First and Last Time

By Dare Williams

At the Best Western, he arrived in a Ford
with its burned-out back. We spent the day
driving while he pointed at ruins
of cars gutted on the dead lawns.
Buckled in a seat taken by fire
I remember it was hard to breathe
back there. I wanted what
the hills had: someone who looked
at them with awe. He told me
his current wife, who I will never meet,
works at a perfume counter,
spends her days selling what she can
makes extra if she gets people
to purchase two bottles or more.
I imagine when she comes home
her flat hair holding the clearance smell,
she’ll ask what happened that day.
Two boys come running in, acting
like airplanes, Oh, nothing, he says.
A sudden change in stale light
no scent for what I am
a ripped-out engine
with nowhere to throttle–




Listen as Dare Williams reads Thirteen Meeting My Father For The First and Last Time.

Added: Thursday, November 2, 2023  /  Used with permission.
Dare Williams
Photo by Ryan McGinley.

Dare Williams is a Queer HIV-positive poet and literary worker rooted in Southern California. A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, he has received support/fellowships for his work from Brooklyn Poets, Breadloaf, Tin House, and Vermont Studio Center. He has been awarded a California Arts Council Performance Grant, and his work has been featured in Kenyon Review, Foglifter, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. He is an associate poetry editor at Hooligan Magazine, and an MFA student at Warren Wilson College. To learn more about Dare’s writing, visit his website

Image Description: Dare Williams looks into the camera while standing slightly turned away against a white background. Dare has a moustache and eyebrow scar, and wears a white T-shirt and nose stud. The photo is black and white.

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