Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Uncle

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Uncle

Article excerpt

You preferred to die alone,

the nurse said, adjusting

the morphine.

When I thanked you for the book

you gave me on my sixth

birthday you were embarrassed

and took a long gulp of beer,

as if you were pouring yourself

into the liquid.

On car rides I would read

it and think of you,

while you slept with a gun

under your pillow and woke up

screaming out the window.

In the end, we were as scared

of you as you were. We took

Grandma out of her house

to get away from you and she wept

for her son, as you starved in your childhood

home, it now dark and quiet.

Among the siblings curses

skimmed the edges of teeth.

What do you do with the prodigal son

who won't come back from Vietnam,

from his father's suicide, from divorce?

the memories like skinned animals,

bleeding from the robbery.

Ten years ago you sat outside

smoking a tobacco pipe,

laughter from your throat

like German syllables,

and your hands shook from the image

of so many people moving across the lawn. …

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