Humberto Santos, 1967

Happy birthday, Dad!

My father would have been 67 today.

I wrote this poem when I was 23 using the prompt "Write from the perspective of someone you know at the age you are now." Try it. It's a fun exercise.

I also like how my Dad's birthday always lands in the midst of National Poetry Month. It's kinda, um, poetic that way.


Humberto Santos, 1967

After a hard day’s night at Sir George Williams night school,
he puts his commerce textbooks away
and calls his parents to say goodnight:

Boa noite, mãe,” he says to his mother.
Boa noite, Humberto,” she replies.

He’s worked hard this week
but it’s Friday and it’s time to play hard.
He reaches under his bed and pulls out a sleek guitar case.
He flicks the clasps open: clip, clap, clithk

He cradles the Goya classical guitar
and plucks the strings with his fingers
and begins playing a bouncy tune

“Olha que coisa mais linda,
mais cheia de graça...”

His head bouncing in the moonlight
as he quietly sings to himself

“Tall and tan and young and lovely,
the girl from Ipanema goes walking…”

Closing his eyes, he’s transported to the beaches
Of Cascais, Portugal.
He’s walking barefoot on the coastline and
smells sardines being grilled and
kettles cooking handmade chips.

“Oh, but I watch her so sadly,
how can I tell her I love her?”

Back in his room, he reaches into the guitar case,
grabs a sheet of lyrics:

“It's been a hard day's night,
and I been working like a dog…”

Tomorrow he’s going to the Great Britain pavilion
to look for Beatles records and to visit the USSR,
maybe even Greece.

Who know? Perhaps, he’ll go to La Ronde
and bump into Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.
He is after all, in the cosmopolitan city of Montreal.

(for Humberto Santos b. April 4, 1944)
Greg Santos

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