Contents | July/August 2003
More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.
The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2003
Hear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)
by John Skoyles
Uncle Grossman quotes the Greeks and the gods
and says the Great One knows when a feather
falls to a field, then he clears his throat
with the sound of a brake yanked into place.
Grossman, our childless nuncle, bumps
his avuncular head against the bird feeder.
As seed fills his fedora's rim, he says,
Pain makes a world that would not exist
except for pain. On the way to dinner,
Uncle Grossman describes his current loves,
a woman with five bulldogs, and the nurse
who sneaks him endless Xanax.
Life is comic, he says, and life is tragic.
Uncle G. orders his favorite dish, Veal P.,
but does not recommend it.
Although our uncle has not been born again,
he booms with the strength of the just born
against white chocolate, the rosary,
and Galileo's fate. When a small nephew
asks us to drive faster, his uncle states,
No matter how many cars you pass,
you cannot pass the car ahead of you.
It's a rainy evening when we see him to the bus.
The long aisle of windows steams,
and we wave goodbye to Uncle Grossman
through the little circle of clarity
he keeps rubbing clean with the heel of his fist.
John Skoyles is the author of three poetry collections. His most recent book is a memoir, Secret Frequencies: A New York Education (2003).
Copyright © 2003 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July/August 2003; Uncle Grossman; Volume 292, No. 1; 64.