Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 3 1998 3:30 AM

Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts

Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts


By Mark Halliday

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(posted Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1998)

To hear the poet read "Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts," click here.

The connection between divorced fathers and pizza crusts
is understandable. The divorced father does not cook
confidently. He wants his kid to enjoy dinner.
The entire weekend is supposed to be fun. Kids love
pizza. For some reason involving soft warmth and
     malleability

kids approve of melted cheese on pizza
years before they will tolerate cheese in other situations.
So the divorced father takes the kid and the kid's friend
out for pizza. The kids eat much faster than the dad.
Before the dad has finished his second slice,

the kids are playing a video game or being Ace Ventura
or blowing spitballs through straws, making this hail
that can't quite be cleaned up. There are four slices left
and the divorced father doesn't want them wasted,
there has been enough waste already; he sits there

in his windbreaker finishing the pizza. It's good
except the crust is actually not so great--
after the second slice the crust is basically a chore--
so you leave it. You move on to the next loaded slice.
Finally there you are amid rims of crust.

All this is understandable. There's no dark conspiracy.
Meanwhile the kids are having a pretty good time
which is the whole point. So the entire evening makes
clear sense. Now the divorced father gathers
the sauce-stained napkins for the trash and dumps them

and dumps the rims of crust which are not
corpses on a battlefield. Understandability
fills the pizza shop so thoroughly there's no room
for anything else. Now he's at the door summoning the kids
and they follow, of course they do, he's a dad.

Mark Halliday teaches at Ohio University. His books of poetry are Little Star (1987) and Tasker Street (1992).