“Boys without Fathers” by Susan Hayden

This has always been
a “Quest” story:
Adventures, magical rewards,
the tests

Running for my life
and from my life
since I had feet

Running to meet
who were once
boys without fathers

Boys without Fathers

They learned their way
around things,
not by choice
They’ve given voice
and reason
to my tiny little leaps
toward the Unknown

and I was (and still am)
to their lack of guidance–
that moral (or immoral) code
by being let loose
to draw conclusions
of their Own

A Father will reveal
a river’s hidden moves;
the groove in the magic angle,
twenty degrees to skip a stone

not leave a Boy
to bond with the Alone
and grow up overnight
with no instructions

A Father will show
How to build a fire
Pitch a tent
Give directions
Embellish all reflections

Fight with snowballs,
Fish through ice
He’ll be the one that says,
“Roll the dice,
it’s your turn”

Your Turn

This has always been
a “Quest” story
with its circuitous route,
its point and its shoot;
its natural disasters

Still running to the men
Who were once
Boys without Fathers

To seek from within them
what’s unwritten:
the secret to dreaming
the unmarked trail
the backroad home
the way to make peace with the Alone

The adventures, the magical rewards,
the tests
and a plea in their honor,
a simple request:
Please teach me
How to grow my own Boy,
the One without a Father

Susan Hayden

© 2010


  1. lkthayer · November 11, 2010

    Growing up as a ‘fatherless’ child myself, this really strikes a chord. Bravo Susan and welcome to The Juice Bar, it’s a pleasure to squeeze you! Lisa 🙂

  2. Susan Hayden · November 11, 2010

    Thrilled you would even ask me to be a part of the blend ❤ ❤

  3. stevie · November 11, 2010

    I too grew up without a father or rather a father who was not there
    can relate to this wonderful vital touching poem.
    It hits a nerve
    and all the spaces within where I stumbled did not know what to do
    how to feel
    playing catch alone creating games in my room alone.
    This poem in a its way opens up my past memories
    and gives the unresolved parts of me some comfort some peace.
    The inner wounds that no one sees are addressed here and it is written so delicately yet so powerfully.

    Susan you captured this so beautifully and wonderfully in this poem.
    Thank you
    The goodness is still alive in you and the child and your reading Sunday night contributed so much to the evening.


  4. stevie · November 11, 2010

    A hot killer photo of you that sizzles too


  5. Susan Hayden · November 11, 2010

    My goodness! This is very sweet ❤

  6. Lordy · November 11, 2010

    Words build pictures and a storyline as we read. Of course there is the other side of the fence, like when having what should be good is far from a blessing!! Hope to see more of your writing at The Juice Bar

  7. Joaquin Levitt · November 12, 2010

    Coming from a broken home, and being a single father, gives this piece a special connection to me. I am touched by your poem in a very personal, heartfelt way. You have the unique ability to articulate emotion so that the reader can relate, and empathize. Keep up the fantastic work, we all need good writers in our lives.

  8. Susan Hayden · November 13, 2010

    Oh…I love you, Joaquin..

  9. Tammy Zemlyn · November 14, 2010

    Susan: A clear window into where you have been the past 30 years, and what your life challenges have brought your way. Beautifully written. True, pure and simple. I love this. …..Tammy Z.

  10. Bret Jensen · November 15, 2010

    This leaves me speechless.

  11. besonian · April 19, 2011

    Moving and very beautiful and so well understood. An only child, I grew up without a father and this expresses so well the chasm and intangible longing in my life left by the departure of my father in my very early years. I was never to see him alive again. I have blogged about this – it is a matter which, although I now know a reasonable about him and have photographs of him, still has a profound, saddening effect on me. Once again, very moving. Thank you.

  12. jeff thorn · May 12, 2011

    smiles & tears ❤

  13. clayb1 · May 12, 2011

    Whoa! That… was really close to home.

    Father left when I was 5. Step father at 9 worked mostly Graveyard. I didn’t feel connected.

    Lost, lonely, heart aching soul.
    Confused,wandering seeking solace.
    Wanting to feel connected.
    Pushing away those I love and need most.
    Efforts defeat self.
    Heart closed, cracks, then breaks open wide.
    Painful gift.

    • clayb1 · May 13, 2011

      “Hopes of a Son”

      I have a hope, there is a boy.
      His father gone, missing, taken away by drugs.
      Seeing myself in him I was frightened.
      Wanting to reach out and bond, fear held me back.

      He loved me, wanting me to be his Dad.
      Unsure how, feeling unsafe and afraid, I held back.
      I missed an oportunity.

      Preconceived ideas and notions on how things should be.
      My motives were good, but my methods poor.
      Blinded by self, my error not seen.
      Not knowing better, not knowing how, trying harder the best I could.
      Different perspective seen from afar, I did’t know any better.
      No point of reference other than limited perception.

      No experience being a father.
      Pain previously prevented me from trying.

      Searching deep within, finding flaws, letting go.
      The desires of a boy now seen,
      To feel safe, secure and loved.

      Pray; may I be a better man, may I have a second chance.

      Empty myself of preconceived ideas and notions, may I be able to show up.
      In a loving yet detached way, being supportive, planting seeds of hope.
      Knowing seeds sprout in Gods time, not mine, allow for natural maturation without expectations.
      In this way, may I be a guide, to give him the hope I feel I didn’t have.

      Removed from the situation by his mother,
      She sought to protect him from me.
      I was out of line, and I made a mistake in error.
      Focus and perspective lost
      I was too hard on him and tried to force outcomes for my benefit more than his.
      Her judgement difficult to accept, she was correct.
      I admire her strength.

      Now he’s gone, I miss him so, I want to correct my mistake.
      I want to try again.
      Defering to her judgement,
      I await a second chance.
      Perhaps through the Grace of God, a Healing, a Blessing, might be granted to all.

      • Susan Hayden · May 13, 2011

        This is such an honest + moving piece, Clay. I am deeply touched by your response. Thankyou… S.H.

  14. Fred Whitlock · May 12, 2011

    A fine and deeply moving piece of work. It stirs the soul and sinks in – sitting there a long time – brewing – to be sipped on – and felt going warmly through my senses. Brings up the fact there’s a strong need for male mentors.

  15. Susan Hayden · May 12, 2011

    Thanks so much to JT, Clay + Fred, for appreciating this ❤

  16. Mason Allport · May 12, 2011

    Great job Mumsy!

  17. Susan Hayden · May 12, 2011

    Awww thankyou Mace!

  18. Jon · May 13, 2011

    Dear Susan:

    This poem floored me, because it speaks to a missing piece of me. It speaks to a hole in me where I wish my father would have been. It speaks to my relationship with women. You actually put the theme of the long form piece that I am working on “FATHER IN ALPHABET CITY” into words.

    This is the first time that I really looked at how a fatherless man interacts with his woman – as a lover and a partner.

  19. Susan Hayden · May 13, 2011

    Thankyou so much for that, Jon.

    Of course it is most meaningful to read the responses of the (former) Boys Without Fathers, that an identification even occurs here. I feel reassured..

    I really cannot wait to hear you read on June 12th—-and maybe you can read a few of your own poems?

  20. Janis · June 17, 2011

    It seems things that are lost to us so early are like amputations in our young world.

    Recently I read a book about the brain, they have mapped it now (or so they say) and can tell the different areas which govern over sections of the body. There were tests done to see what happened when you had lost a limb, would that section of the brain atrophy or change in some way? What they found is that the region closest to the section which no longer had the arm or leg kind of took over that area, so that there was more function and more sensitivity in the closet region. I think this is true for you and your son too, and the DAD area was next to your heart.

  21. trudi · June 17, 2011

    thank you for reminding me

  22. Lisle Leete · May 8, 2012

    Heart-rendingly beautiful, Susan. You make me want to be a better father.

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