Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts

By Mark Halliday b. 1949 Mark Halliday
The connection between divorced fathers and pizza crusts
is understandable. The divorced father does not cook
confidently. He wants his kid to enjoy dinner.
The entire weekend is supposed to be fun. Kids love
pizza. For some reason involving soft warmth and malleability
kids approve of melted cheese on pizza
years before they will tolerate cheese in other situations.
So the divorced father takes the kid and the kid's friend
out for pizza. The kids eat much faster than the dad.
Before the dad has finished his second slice,
the kids are playing a video game or being Ace Ventura
or blowing spitballs through straws, making this hail
that can't quite be cleaned up. There are four slices left
and the divorced father doesn't want them wasted,
there has been enough waste already; he sits there
in his windbreaker finishing the pizza. It's good
except the crust is actually not so great—
after the second slice the crust is basically a chore—
so you leave it. You move on to the next loaded slice.
Finally there you are amid rims of crust.
All this is understandable. There's no dark conspiracy.
Meanwhile the kids are having a pretty good time
which is the whole point. So the entire evening makes
clear sense. Now the divorced father gathers
the sauce-stained napkins for the trash and dumps them
and dumps the rims of crust which are not
corpses on a battlefield. Understandability
fills the pizza shop so thoroughly there's no room
for anything else. Now he's at the door summoning the kids
and they follow, of course they do, he's a dad.

Mark Halliday, "Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts" from JAB. Copyright © 2002 by Mark Halliday.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: JAB (The University of Chicago Press, 2002)

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Poet Mark Halliday b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Parenthood, Separation & Divorce, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Relationships, Home Life

 Mark  Halliday


Poet Mark Halliday earned a BA and an MA from Brown University, and a PhD from Brandeis University. Halliday has published several collections of poetry, including Little Star (1987), selected for the National Poetry Series; Tasker Street (1992), winner of the Juniper Prize; Jab (2002); and Keep This Forever (2008). Influenced by New York School poets Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, Halliday writes disarmingly accessible and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Separation & Divorce, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Relationships, Home Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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