uncle jim

Uncle Jim
by peter meinke
What the children remember about Uncle Jim
is that on the train to Reno to get divorced
so he could marry again
he met another woman and woke up in California.
It took him seven years to untangle that dream
but a man who could sing like Uncle Jim
was bound to get in scrapes now and then:
he expected it and we expected it.
Mother said, It’s because he was the middle child,
and Father said, Yeah, where there’s trouble
Jim’s in the middle.
When he lost his voice he lost all of it
to the surgeon’s knife and refused the voice box
they wanted to insert. In fact he refused
almost everything. Look, they said,
it’s up to you. How many years
do you want to live? and Uncle Jim
held up one finger.
The middle one.

0 thoughts on “uncle jim

  1. I don’t read the last line as the poet inserting that line but rather the character of Uncle Jim sitting over his shoulder grunting and pointing for him to include it because he wants to make sure you get it. When you’ve been that pegged by everyone your whole life, there at the end the only thing you have left that is yours is resignation and bitterness.
    I read this almost as a country song. The last line is essential to capture the fallacious don’t-give-a-shit anthem carried around like a pack of cigarettes rolled up in a t-shirt sleeve.

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