of my stepdaddies were going to kill me,
my Northern stepdaddy by beating me
to death with his Army-issue belt
or with a soapy washcloth crammed
down my throat; my Southern stepdaddy
with his Remington 16-gauge shotgun
leveled directly at my heart, the only time
anyone ever threatened me with a weapon.
But they didn’t, which is why today,
while What’s Going On was blasting away
during my workout, I was thinking
about Marvin Gaye, or more to the point,
about his preacher daddy shooting him
to death—from fear of him, the old man said.
My stepdaddies didn’t kill me, sparing me
and sparing themselves the ghost I like
to think I’d be—like Marvin a ghost
haunting them, an eternally unstoppable LP.