Tuesday, July 10, 2012


my great-grandfather
had big milky blue german eyes,
bigger hands, a barrel chest and a
perfect head of hair,
he tugged at his suspenders
and had long quit cigars by the time I was born,
tho in every wheeze you could
sense the toll they'd taken,

he told everybody
to go fuck themselves

at the sausage factory when he
felt he'd worked enough

at the tank factory when the pay
wasn't what he'd been told

in his back yard in jersey loading his
BB gun to shoot the cats

in his too big Buick at the other
drivers on the road tho he was drunk

at the officers who told him he couldn't
go with everyone else to the western front

at the man who wasn't there while he strangled
him, blind and delirious on his death bed

at the world who he made sure he left
nothing to

double parked in front of his handicap
spot when some idiot took it up

at my Uncle during Thanksgiving dinner three
Manhattans deep and who knows how many before he got there

at the cancer that took his wife
while he waited impatiently to join her

at the flat feet
which kept him from that war

when he taught me me how to respond
to all the pieces of shit in the world

When he was teaching my mom the same thing
20 years before that,

physically not fit for service 1941,
the great battlefields of Europe,
factory worker on the homefront,
a widower for too many years,

I wondered in that cold,
silent room, his death bed's room--
watching stiff caloused hands
my mother's caked mascara--
if the man he'd lunged at so viciously
with what little time he had left,
if this phantom taunting him from across
the paved streets of his dying mind
had anything to do with that
lostness we all suffer through just to go on living.

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