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DEAR ABBY: After my dad died several years ago, I wrote a tribute to him. My friends, some of them former Marines like me, said it expressed what they felt and remembered about their fathers.

I seldom see published tributes by sons to their fathers. Perhaps it's not macho to write such poems. If you feel this amateurish effort should be shared with others, I'd be honored to see it in your column on Father's Day. -- WILLIAM W. BARTSCH JR., KINGS PARK, N.Y.

DEAR WILLIAM: You have written a beautiful tribute, and I'm pleased to share it with my readers on this holiday. Read on:

REMEMBERING DAD

A soft scratch of whiskers pressed on my face,

Bear-hugging squeezes

A rough gentle grace.

Running and racing, letting me win,

Falling asleep

My cheek on his chin.

The strong smell of work, of tools and of sweat,

Of dust and of rust

I'll never forget.

After-shave lotion, paint cans and pails,

Tie clips and cufflinks,

Galvanized nails.

Basements and attics, out-of-date ties,

Oceans and rivers

Fished at sunrise.

Whiskers grew grayer, yet scratched just the same,

And wrinkles were etched

On a more fragile frame.

Oh, how I long for that rough-whiskered kiss,

That sweet scratch of love

So dearly I miss.

DEAR ABBY: Raising children takes patience and a lot of humor. I'm passing this tongue-in-cheek tribute to fathers along to you hoping that you will print it for Father's Day. -- A FRIEND IN IRVINE, CALIF.

DEAR FRIEND: It is both humorous and touching, and oh, so true. I'm pleased to share it:

A TRIBUTE TO FATHERS

My father when I was age ...

4: My daddy can do anything.

5: My daddy knows a whole lot.

6: My dad is smarter than your dad.

8: My dad doesn't exactly know everything.

10: In the olden days when my dad grew up, things were sure different.

12: Oh, well naturally, Father doesn't know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.

14: Don't pay attention to my father. He is so old-fashioned!

21: Him? My Lord, he's hopelessly out-of-date.

25: Dad knows a little bit about it, but then he should because he has been around so long.

30: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he's had a lot of experience.

35: I'm not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.

40: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise and had a world of experience.

50: I'd give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn't appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.

-- ANONYMOUS

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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