Today is Fathers’ Day, and I intended, originally, to write a column about great fathers in literature. 

But as I was searching for the right characters, the right quotes, the right passages about fatherhood, I couldn’t find anything strong enough to convey what I wanted to convey. 

It was like searching for the just the right card at CVS when nothing says exactly what you mean.

What I wanted to say was that dads, good dads, are both who we emulate and who we look to for safety.

What I wanted to say, is my dad is my hero. My protector, poet, putter-out of flames, builder of fires, my personal Dylan, portable conscience, rock star poet.

My dad doesn't usually like me to write about him (sorry, Dad) but what I wanted to say gushed out, untamed, a column-poem burst of feeling, and if you could roll along with this here (because I’m not the only person who looks up to their father like this) what I remember is sitting on the tree-swing at the old house/ you pushing me in between mowing the lawn/ I was the wild horse galloping ‘round the house/ I was the princess on a quest/ you were whoever I needed you to be.

Fourth grade: Neil Young on the yellow Sony/ fire in the wood stove/ you come in with the wood/ I'm at the kitchen island with the basement encyclopedias / I tell you what Peru exports / I ask you what protons are and you draw pictures in the newspaper margin/ you let Sligo out he's scratching at the back door/ we watch his tail, his ears straight up as he sits guard on the bulkhead, barking at small noises in the night.

Seventh grade: wearing your old road race T-shirt for school picture day, I thought it was the coolest shade of blue/ Builder of things/ house-painter hands/ I ask you: what's your favorite Beatles album? (Rubber Soul)/ What was Dylan '65 like? (no one booed but front row folkies) your thoughts become my facts.

Ninth grade: driving to school each morning/ we stop for Snapple and coffee and the newspaper/ I read the comics all the way in/ I told you who was born This Day in History/ The loudest dad at every meet: cheering at the mile mark/ never missed a race/ your rubber soul/ I ask you how to solve for Y/ I ask you: Homogeneous mixtures have the same blank throughout the mixture?/ I ask you: Nuclear fission is the splitting of the blank of an atom?/ You know all the blanks/ driving home in the green Tacoma, I played the harmonica you kept in the glove compartment.

Bathhouse 33 the boogie boards we rode through surf/ the castles we watched wash away/ I ask you why the ocean never freezes/ You watched out for every step I took/ dusted me off when I fell ( I always fell) / cleared the sand off the road /watched me go on from the lifeguard chair, whistle dangling.

Read every word I ever wrote/ never miss a byline/ find every typo/ save every story / there every Trash Day/ call me when Neil Young's on/ keep track of oil changes/ listen to me ramble about every interview/ your voice on the phone at the end of the day/ safety flowing through wires/ cowboy poet and protector/ my hero (Is there any question why?)

Here’s to all the dads we look up to: Happy Fathers’ Day to each and every one.  


Lauren Daley is a freelance writer, poet and book columnist. Contact her at She tweets @laurendaley1. Read more at