Self-Portrait with Daughter

My earliest memories are of me
being filthy. And jittery. Being quiet.
Playing doctor with the daughter
of a family friend. Getting caught, being ashamed.
Occasionally, serious shit went down.
Mom threw things at dad.
Dad went away mad and came back drunk
and happy with winnings from Jai-Alai,
a cuckold, lucky with the numbers.

I refused to brush my teeth
and faked showers. Put Children’s
Tylenol down the sink drain
instead of taking it. Brought blue
jeans to school in my backpack
on the days mom made me wear shorts.
Acts of civil disobedience.
From four to seven years old,
I was obsessive-compulsive. Maybe.
I picked bare anything with fur
that I could get my hands on.
The Devil spoke to me in tongues.
I understood most of it.
It was your typical rebel-type shit.
Even now my internal chatter
has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome.
It’s probably, like everything these days,
genetic. I still have poor hygiene.
Still refuse good for the sake of good.
Still occasionally get the urge
to make bald the odd woobie.
But I have a little daughter now.
I try to set a good example, a task
for which I am uniquely unsuited.

Steve Lambert (Gavin S. Lambert) was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, in 1974, and grew up in Central Florida. He now lives in Saint Augustine with his wife and daughter.

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6 Responses to Self-Portrait with Daughter

  1. Trent Lewin says:


  2. Steve says:

    Trent. Thanks. Really appreciate that. Truly.

  3. Ann Hayes says:

    Extremely raw and personal.

  4. Steve says:

    It’s a “self-portrait” so, by necessity, it is personal, but I also took some creative license. It’s not as personal as you might think. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  5. Sallie Folwell says:

    I actually enjoyed this – and identify with most. Tourette’s-esque internal chatter: LOVE!

  6. Steve says:

    Sallie, thanks for “actually” enjoying it.

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