Uncle Joe

August 1, 1998

Uncle Joe - Poetry of the Times

I learned somewhere in the clouds,
the blue lake far below
the floor filled with jaundiced men.
What did I know of suffering's music,
a suburban boy with clean Converse
All Stars
and pockets stuffed with notecards.

The Chief gave me Uncle Joe,
"King of 18 West,"
95 and kept alive
by each new breeze of students.
His hairless body lay
smooth and contractured,
face drawn tight on bones
like wet leather
stretched and dried in the sun.
Opened in a black hole to hell
his mouth screamed,
fixed in a silent circle.
I hated to touch him,
hated his smell,
the urine and helpless sweat,
sick when I suctioned
green horror from his body.
All I wanted was to let him die.

One morning, the clouds drifting,
I sang without conscience,
as if the man whose body
I pierced for blood
had vanished to the sky.
And then I gasped
at his breathing's new beat.
I sang louder, faster,
my song, his rhythm
in gentle syncopation,
voice off key,
mouth held to his ear,
warm breath on my cheek,
strong wings pounding
in the center of a cloud.

© CME LLC
8/98

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