A boomer’s ode to her Immigrant Father on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is with us. So it seems right today to honor dads. Last month we published a Mother’s Day poem by Harriet Shenkman, Professor Emerita at City University of New York, winner of second place for poetry in a national contest sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association, and BoomerCafé’s own new Poet-in-Residence. This month, it’s Harriet’s ode to her Immigrant Father.


Harriet Shenkman

He waltzed me to bed singing,
I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Rode the subway from the tip of Brooklyn
to a shoe factory in Long Island City,
It’s a long way to Tipperary.

Why do the waves go back in the ocean?
Why does Hitler want a final solution?
Y is a crooked letter.

Anti-war protests, government
scandal, the missile crisis,
America will never go under.

He stopped little children on the street,
lifting them to guess their weight.
I see said the blind man.

A cone-shaped party hat, elastic
band under his chin, he and
the boys blowing out candles,
I’m tickled pink.

A ripe cantaloupe,
a corned beef sandwich, me
in my satin-lined college hood,
The best there is.



  1. Harriet, you are full of surprises. I enjoyed reading your poetry and couldn’t help but notice the beautiful picture of you. Congratulations!!!!!

    1. The last generation seemed so enthusiastic and excited for their children to get a good education. Don’t you agree ?

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