He lived for four decades with only old newsprint
stacked high alongside cheesecake glory
girls that never dumped, except for the one,
the girl he dumped along with himself.
He faked out contentment in clapboard
on blocks at Powersville, Georgia:
a water stop, whistle stop, all trains long gone.
Inside his parlor, amidst much detritus
stood an upright Graphonola he wound
up for me when I was eleven,
when our family ventured
a first and a last
visit to meet our great-
thin and flame-haired, squirrelly, loquacious;
an old spruce in gum shoes, delighted to
vault over piles to show off his place
to our family; family he had denied
from himself ever since sometime
DAMN, bitch! You said you was barren!
That ain't no seed of mine, you harlot
from HELL, I ain't PAYIN' one dime for your brat.
I learned of that speech well
after his death, after he wore out
imprinting on pulp images of perfection
in women, with only his mother's dark talking
machine for companionship.
Death made a repair
for the hermit's spurned son: the '31 Chrysler
hidden new in the barn, and the shack, and
Bubba's land and his bonds and stashed cash;
all that was claimed except for a coffin that
the son surrendered and then sent to me,
a fourteen year old boy in Miami.
Uncle Bubba's Graphonola scratches still today
from the past. It contains Uncle Bubba,
Boy, it works like this.
The horn is hid behind them flap doors.
Back when your momma was a tiny thing,
she points to the horn, and she says, so sweet
and so damn cute,
'Oh! Is there a little person living inside?'
1918 Columbia Graphonola