Father's Day

Father's Day

by Matthew Zapruder


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As seen in the The New York Times Book Review

"In characteristically short lines and pithy, slippery language like predictive text from a lucid dream, Zapruder’s fifth collection grapples with fatherhood as well as larger questions of influence and inheritance and obligation." —The New York Times

“[Zapruder] presents powerfully nuanced and vivid verse about the limitations of poetry to enact meaningful change in a world spiraling into callousness; yet despite poetry’s supposed constraints, Zapruder’s verse offers solace and an invaluable blueprint for empathy.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Zapruder’s new book, Father’s Day, is firmly situated in its (and our) political moment, and is anchored by a compelling gravity and urgency.” ―The Washington Post

The poems in Matthew Zapruder’s fifth collection ask, how can one be a good father, partner, and citizen in the early twenty-first century? Zapruder deftly improvises upon language and lyricism as he passionately engages with these questions during turbulent, uncertain times. Whether interrogating the personalities of the Supreme Court, watching a child grow off into a distance, or tweaking poetry critics and hipsters alike, Zapruder maintains a deeply generous sense of humor alongside a rich vein of love and moral urgency. The poems in Father’s Day harbor a radical belief in the power of wonder and awe to sustain the human project while guiding it forward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595783
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 771,396
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun Bear (Copper Canyon), as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose, from Ecco Press/Harper Collins (2017). He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Carlos Williams Award, and a May Sarton Award from the Academy of American Arts and Sciences. His poetry has been adapted and performed at Carnegie Hall by Composer Gabriel Kahane and Brooklyn Rider, and was the libretto for Vespers for a New Dark Age, a piece by composer Missy Mazzoli. In 2000, he co-founded Verse Press, and is now editor at large at Wave Books. From 2016-7 he held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is an Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Read an Excerpt


At first we all

went down to the lake

to hold hands,

all the multicolored

signs said

with love

we will resist,

over my head

I lifted my son

so he could see

what people

look like

when they hear

the song Imagine,

a few weeks later

again people stood

at the water,

this time at night

holding flashlight

to say to fire

you came

without permission

and took our young

gentle soldiers

for art

so we will show

even with our old


we can see

each other

without you,

others booed

the mayor which was

my friend said


I don’t know

what is anymore,

everyone understands

in a different

contradictory way

the so far purely



so many millions

of choices

brought us,

not too far

from the water

I sat on the couch

below the sound

of blades

drinking amber

numbing fluid

my thoughts

chopping the air

feeling not

what is the word

to be a father


mine never told me

where to hide

a brick of gold,

for a long time

I have known

no voices

will come at last

to tell us how

to stop pretending

we don’t know

if it is not

safe for some

it is not

for anyone.


eighty years ago

during those

famous dark times

when the government

paid men to build

bridges and dams

they carved this park

my son loves

out of a hill

the men needed

to keep working

to get paid

so they made

a long dangerous concrete

slide kids scream

down their parents

watching with

their hands

over their mouths

then dug

this unnecessary

cool aperture

full of obscure

shadows through

the hillside

to the garden

of famous roses

I don’t care about

and finally some

secret stairs

no matter how many

times we have found

always seem

like they were

forever waiting

only for us

my son and I

went upward

his red shirt

kept disappearing

into the shadows

I became tired

from pointless worry

so we sat on

one stone step

and shared

some blue water

through the leaves

we could see

a giant crumbling

pastel house

it once was grand

its dark windows

still look down

on everything

it was so quiet

I could hear

the message

everyone knows

worse times

are coming

who isn’t afraid

only the dead

we went further

the stairs never ended

we had to turn

back to our lives

knowing there is

mystery even

in the new world

Table of Contents

Poem For Doom 3

I Wake Up Before The Machine 6

December 8

My Life 11

I Met My Wife 15

Graduation Day 17

Today 19

Father's Day 21

When I Was Fifteen 23

Paul Ryan 26

Our Custody 29

Poem For Passengers 30

Poem For Vows 31

3:14 P.M. 33

Birds Of Texas 35

Into The Alpine Meadow I Send A Few Silent Dawn Apologies 37

Poem For Ann Hood 39

Poem For Noguchi 42

My Sabbatical 44

Poem For Coleridge 47

Behave Thyself 48

Unpacking My Books 50

Poem For Tomaz Šalamun 52

Stari Trg 54

Poem Written With Buson 59

Poem For Éluard 61

Poem On The Occasion Of A Weekly Staff Meeting 63

Summer Poem #3 65

What Is The Naturalist Saying? 66

The Privilege Of Poetry 68

Another Song 70

Reverse Truth Song 73

To The Bay Bridge 75

4th Of July 78

The Critic 79

Roseanne Barr 83

The Black Bird 84

The Poetry Reading 86

Generation X 91

Poem For Harm 95

Astrology 98

My Dog 100

The Pledge 101

A Love Song 103

Penultimate Poem 105

I Commit 106

Another Poem For Éluard 108

Poem For Sandra 111

Moving Day 114

Phantom 116

Poem For Merwin 118

Tunnel Park 121

Afterword: Late Humanism 125

Notes 131

Acknowledgments 133

About The Author 135

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