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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

A Dad's Influence and Memory Helps This Poet Remain Bulletproof

Updated: Feb 8

By Ismael Rodriguez Jr., The Bulletproof Poet

Artist, Writer, and Activist

Image created using AI in MS Designer

EDITOR'S NOTE: In our recent celebratory post marking the Daddying blog's bicentennial, we emphasized how the diversity of voices and expression we strive to share here regularly is what helps give the blog its unique sense of community. In turn, we hope dads, dad figures, and moms of all kinds feel connected and welcome to express themselves here, whether that's through memoir, research, film, video, or poetry.

This week's guest writer is Ismael Rodriguez Jr., who is also known in various on- and offline spaces as The Bulletproof Poet. I found Ismael surrounded by and mingling among the burgeoning writing crowd on Twitter. And same as his immense following there, I was drawn in not only by his wordcraft, relentless kindness, and willingness to help others find a bigger audience for their work, but also by his intriguing backstory. From his bio below, you will see the man has been through and overcome a LOT while continuing to work through mental health challenges and addiction.

Writing has been his refuge. His experience infuses it with cosmic weight.

"My writing started out as therapy. I had a therapist recommend journaling, but expressing how I felt in it was difficult," he told me in an email. "I started using more metaphors, similes, and other more poetic ways to express myself. Then I decided to try to just write a poem and kept going after that."

I soon felt compelled to ask Ismael if he'd like to join our other esteemed guest poets in publishing some of his work on the blog. He said he would. Specifically, I asked if he had a daddying-related poem or two he could share. Of course, he did. The following verses are reprinted here with Ismael's permission and our gratitude. We think they perfectly illustrate how the simple act of being there being engaged forges a relationship between dad and child that is both tender and enduring.

Daddy on...

Legacy of Love


With words of wisdom, gentle as the dove

You taught me life's great truths, this world's harsh parts

Patience and kindness, too, you showed your heart

Was good, a well from which poured light, not shadows.


As time flowed by you grew frail, strength turning hollow

But still you'd take my hand, read favorite stories

And though we'd read them countless times before,

You'd ask, with playful smile, "Shall we follow


Our friends again inside this book?" With joy

I'd say yes, snuggled close. You made me see

That fantasy worlds lived in you and me

If we but looked. Your love no years destroy


It marches on, inside my children's eyes

Your spirit in their laughter, still alive.

Ismael Rodriguez Jr.

Bonding and Building


With hammers tapping, we build and create

Measuring twice before sawing, my dad's careful trait

Setting each nail and screw perfectly in place

His voice guides me as we work at this space


Sanding the edges, making them smooth

Priming and painting, colors we choose

The table takes shape through our hands combined

His craft and my help wonderfully entwined


A project to cherish, this work bench we've made

Its legs sturdy, top sanded and stained

A testament standing to our bonded team

The joy of creating, of learning and dream


A solid foundation we've built here today

On projects ahead it will help pave the way

But more than the table, the time spent with you

Is what I'll remember when this day is through.

– Ismael Rodriguez Jr. 


Ismael S. Rodriguez Jr., also known as The Bulletproof Poet, is a son, uncle, and a talented and diverse artist, writer, and poet of Puerto Rican and Filipino descent. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, and now lives in Oakland Park, FL. Rodriguez has a range of interests and experiences, including serving in the U.S. Navy and being deployed during Operation Desert Storm. Despite facing numerous challenges in his life, including schizophrenia, PTSD, substance abuse, and homelessness, Rodriguez has overcome these obstacles and has been sober for 15 years. He is also actively seeking treatment for his mental and emotional health. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Rodriguez is an ordained reverend and practices Grey Witchcraft, Discordianism, and ceremonial magic. His website showcases his poetry, short stories, origami, and more. You can find more of his inspiring work on his Amazon authors page.


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