Patrick Roche – “21” (CUPSI 2014)


21. My father is run over by a car.
He is passed out in the road with a blood alcohol content
4 times the legal limit. I do not cry.
Four months later, The nurses lose his pulse,
And I wonder whose life Flashed before his eyes.
Rewinding VHS tapes Old home videos
20. 19. I haven’t brought a friend home in four
years. 18. My mother sips the word “divorce”
Her mouth curls at the taste Like it burns going down.
17. I start doing homework at Starbucks. I have more meaningful conversations with
the barista Than with my family
16. I wait for Christmas Eve. My brother and I usually exchange gifts to
one another early This year, he
And my father exchange blows. My mother doesn’t go to mass.
15. I come up with the theory that my father started drinking again
Because maybe he found out I’m gay. Like if he could make everything else blurry,
Maybe somehow I’d look straight. 15. My mother cleans up his vomit in the middle
of the night And cooks breakfast in the morning like she
hasn’t lost her appetite. 15. I blame myself.
15. My brother blames everyone else. 15. My mother blames the dog.
15. Super Bowl Sunday My father bursts through the door like an
avalanche Picking up speed and debris as he falls
Banisters, coffee tables, picture frames Tumbling, stumbling.
I find his AA chip on the kitchen counter. 14. My father’s been sober for 10,
Maybe 11, years? I just know
We don’t even think about it anymore. 13.
12. 11. Mom tells me Daddy’s “meetings” are for
AA. She asks if I know what that means.
I don’t. I nod anyway.
10. My parents never drink wine at family gatherings.
All my other aunts and uncles do. I get distracted by the TV and forget to ask
why. 9.
8. 7.
6. I want to be Spider-Man. Or my dad.
They’re kinda the same. 5.
4. 3. I have a nightmare
The recurring one about Ursula from The Little Mermaid
So I get up I waddle toward Mommy and Daddy’s room,
Blankie in hand, I pause.
Daddy’s standing in his underwear Silhouetted by refrigerator light.
He raises a bottle To his lips.
2. 1.
Zero. When my mother was pregnant with me, I wonder if she hoped,
As so many mothers do, That her baby boy would grow up to be
Just like His father.

100 Replies to “Patrick Roche – “21” (CUPSI 2014)

  1. I hope that your future is better. I am also a poet and have made a few poetry videos. Hope one day that I can deliver my Poems with the same impact.

  2. I got chills, and I like it… slam poetry always reminds me of a book I read , of the main character there, he would have a lot to say… you remind me of him too, I remind myself of him a lot.. and I hope in the story he got better, because he was very ,very sick

  3. "I wanna be spiderman, or my dad, they're kind of the same thing" oh that line. Hits so deep. Our perceptions of family and love can change so much

  4. Not only is this poem so powerful and beautiful, the format is so intriguing and his performance just adds to it. I think the message would have come across in any of his (amazing) works, but the way he pieces it together makes it THAT much more bone chilling and beautiful

  5. it slapped me in the face when he said "like if he could make everything else blurry maybe I'd look straight "…. the fact that a child grew up with the assumptions that a parents short coming is their fault is devastating. …. rupi kaur said "a achoholic parent is not a parent but simply a achoholic "…

  6. daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn

  7. The tears just unintentionally flooded my eyes when I heard the spider man part. It's just so heart-breaking to see a kid to be excessively mature and sensitive due to the environment.

  8. went over this poem during a workshop. just wanted to point out how he starts at age 21. wanna know what age 21 also is? the legal drinking age.

    a lot of us didn’t get that at first, but it added a lot to the poem after we realized it. thought i’d share! <3 (love this poem btw)

  9. this poem always hits so close to home. my dad's not an alcohilic but he uses drugs and when I lived with him they always came before groceries. it was fine if I went without a proper meal it was ok coz he was high and he was less angry when he's high

  10. “Just like his father “ fuckkkkkkkkk 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

  11. I've watched this so many times, and it still gives me chills. Thank you for sharing what it's like to live with an alcoholic parent. Just wow

  12. i come back to your poems whenever i need to bury myself in someone else’s words, they are effortless, they flow so perfectly and ‘thankyou’ will never be able to encompass how much i LOVE them.

  13. This guy is a little butch that doesn’t understand ever single person has their OWN personal life, their OWN PERSONAL PROBLEMS

  14. This is so powerful and I think that is because it is told backwards. We get to see the change in its most naked state.

  15. I have never listened to a poem so many times in a row, this is excatly what I aspire to be. To put your life in a perspective so others can understand but also arrange the words in a way that make it pure and wonderful art. This is amazing and so unique, the way you count down gives me shivers. I hope people like you know how much you change the life of others. How easy it has become to talk about my daddy issues because you made explaining as easy as sharing a link. I love this, I love you, thank you so much and please never stop.

  16. I think I’m just being dumb but I don’t get the end when he says “just like his father” can someone please explain

  17. I come back to those words. Again and again. I'm deeply hurt but I feel understood. Thank you for sharing this. Even though I cry everytime I leave with some kind of connection.

  18. First time I heard this poem back in 2014, I got goosebumps.

    It’s 2019… still have goosebumps.

    Such an amazing poem!!!

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