Can of Worms
The first time I saw an oxygen cannula
it was stuck up my father's nose.
"I'll be okay," he said, "it's just oxygen."
This O2 delivery system was an innovation.
We were on vacation in Portland, Oregon, in 1960.
Daddio had trouble breathing in between
ever glowing Kents, bourbon and water,
liver and bacon, and more bourbon.
There should be monuments to my father
at the P. Lorillard tobacco company,
the Fleischmann's Bourbon distillery,
and the Oscar Mayer slaughterhouse.
Back in Cheyenne, mother bought cannisters
of portable oxygen to use if Daddio
had another heart attack. She placed the tiny tanks --
our own mini torpedoes or land mines --
all over the house. You never knew
where his heart might attack him next.
We knew these O2 tubes contained liters
of immortality and clouds of eternal life.
Four heart attacks later we collected
the unused cannisters, sent them
to a refuse pile outside of Cheyenne
far from the Garden of Gethsemane Cemetery
on Pershing Avenue where my father
still resides, having torpedoed his quota
of everlasting air with two packs-a-day
and tanks of booze.