"A Poem For Uncle Jackass (October 27, 1927 – August 14, 2016) Written, Mostly, While Standing in His Hand-Carved Pirogue, a Hammer and a Bag of Nails Hanging from My Waist, Nailing Up the Last of His Gospel Signs--All According to Codicil" -  Samuel Prestridge


They must think I’m dancing on the water,
coming around the bend of the river
and seeing my jerky moonwalk
as the dead man’s pirogue dry humps backwards.
Between blows of the hammer, I hear them,
the party barges, laughing, grilling ribs,
burgers, trying to talk girls out of their swimsuits
for the sake of the vitamin D in sunlight.

They follow the signs to where I’m tethered,
standing in his pirogue, hammering his last
signs to boney cypress knees, buttress roots:

--And I will come in hot judgment . . .

     and witness against sorcerers . . . 

and against the adulterers . . . 

and against all  false swearers . . . 

and against oppressors, saith the Lord. 

His hatreds were infectious.  Dead and buried,
he remains, a spasm, a spirochete
in my brain, blood, in my spinal column.

I live his meanness, nailing up his signs
to watch the letters weather,
to see them vandalized to tatters
for firewood, spite, souvenirs,
to listen for shooters tuning pistols, dotting i’s,
hollowing out a’s and o’s, honoring
letters of his law.  His strictures true
my hammering—no keening strikes, careening
nails, ricochets that put out an eye.
His anger’s in my knees, locked against rocking,
in my stiffening back, arms, in my vertigo.


Samuel Prestridge is the featured reader at the Word of Mouth open mic this Wednesday, June 6, upstairs at the Globe in downtown Athens. Sign-up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings start at 8 pm.


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