My father could recite whole works of Robert Service, Rudyard Kipling… but oy, when he sang…


Dad sang off key
Really off key. Tragically, even.

He dwelt among women who were
descended from sirens
A wife and three daughters
gifted by God with a keen sense of pitch
and an irrepressible desire to sing

Pop couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket
but he sang along anyway
(oblivious to our pinched noses and wincing)
(yeah, we were pretty snobbish, but only where music was concerned)

He also snapped his fingers out of time
as if completely unaware that rhythm had meaning

“You sing like Dad” was a grave insult
tantamount to an accusation of
letting loose a juicy fart in the car
or getting caught picking your nose

But when Dad sang, he did light up
While we suffered for art, mercifully critiquing each other
never satisfied with the result
Dad would burst into “Mule Train” with gusto
or grin as he stumbled through “Ghost Riders in the Sky”

He never knew he couldn’t sing
He just did it anyway
He didn’t care if anybody liked it or not

A life lesson in Q Flat

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil