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.


  1. I don't know why, but I found this funny-especially the ending.

  2. I think it is poetic; poetic justice maybe. The middle one is the over-riding theme, and a man being himself no-matter how contrary and against the odds,
    hmm, deep thoughts. Carrying his self-image through to the end. Strength or folly?

  3. A man after my own heart.

    But, dearheart Distracted, that was not Uncle Jim. That was Uncle John, and Daddy, and Grandpa Jerry, and, come to think of it, Uncle Jim.

    Damn good poem, ma chère!

  4. Uncles are special people,
    nephews and nieces
    have an unreasonable love
    for them___.
    Whether it's the wings
    or a devilish smile
    I can't say.
    It's just that uncles
    get a lot more love
    than they deserve.

  5. This one hit home, sorta. I had an Uncle Jim but he was the oldest of three brothers. The middle guy, Marshall, had that same surgery for throat cancer and squawked through a stoma. He smoked through it too. He frequently gave the middle finger as his physical punctuation mark on life (but he really loved it).

  6. That last bit made me laugh, that will probably be me in the end, refusing everything :-). I could not find an email address for you, so your letter shiny, is E!Have fun.


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