A car pulled over. It was midnight. Raining. The car pulled over in front of a restaurant, Burgers, on the corner of Mott and Central, in Far Rockaway, New York. Far Rockaway is easy to find. Get on the “A” train. Take it to the last stop. Far Rockaway is last. There’s no where else to go. Decades have past since this happened. The occupants, two men, got out of the car leaving the doors open and engine running just as two other men stepped from the restaurant.

One of the men from the car touched one of the men from the restaurant. A light touch on the touch to say stop. With the other hand man-from-car flipped open a black leather wallet. I was very young. The gold shield must have gotten wet. I remember this night. The second man from the car also flashed his gold shield. Detectives. They ordered one of the men from the restaurant into the car. Only one. The other man was free to go. The world is a dangerous place. Melodramatic but true.

The man free to go was Murray Wasloff, my uncle*. The man ordered into the car after the flashing of gold New York City detective shields was Herman Bursky, my father.

My brother and I shared a bed back then. The phone ringing in the kitchen woke us. Light from the hallway glowed into our bedroom.

Is it fair to make poetry from another’s misery? Or do some things need to be written? Confessional poetry? I have nothing to confess.

I don’t remember what my mother said when Uncle Murray told her my father was taken away.

My father was not an innocent man.

The local police station in Far Rockaway is the 101st Precinct. My mother knew many of the officers there. They had been business partners with my father. Take that any way you want. She called the precinct. “Do you have my husband?” No.

She then called the FBI to make a missing persons report. He had to be missing for three days, call back then.

I remember being upset, but don’t remember crying.

Kidnapping? My mother called the FBI back to report it as a kidnapping. They weren’t particularly interested. But there was a witness, and there were gold shields.

It would be years before I would see my father again.

Ten minutes later the FBI called. He was being held at Queens Central, police headquarters for the borough.

“Okay, you Jew bastard, we want some names.” “I told you, my name is Herman Bursky.” The largest of the three detectives in the room wore a white shirt with sleeves rolled up. This was the detective who hit my father in the face knocking him backwards out of the chair each time the question was asked, and each time my father only gave his name.

Sometime, just sometimes, I think the past is meaningless.

“This thing called failure is not about the falling down, it’s about the staying down. You can have a new start anytime you want simply by getting up.” For years I carried this quote in my wallet.

Years later my father told me there was nothing wrong with the beating.

When my mother was allowed to see him the next morning he couldn’t see out of one eye nor hear out of one ear. If you’re afraid of getting hurt don’t become a criminal. My father told me that, too.

What he did has nothing to do with this story. What he did is none of your business. None of this has ever found its way into a poem.

It troubles me greatly that I didn’t start writing poetry until after his death.

*Uncle Murray really wasn’t my uncle. After my father was orphaned he went to live with the Wasloffs. Murray Wasloff was always Uncle Murray.