Uncle Joe

You always smelled like
limburger cheese and slibovitz.
I remember how 
you held your nose
between two fingers
and blew it into the street
how you slurped your borsht
straight from the bowl
how you said with a Polish accent
“Vot a vunderful tuchus she has.”
A refined man you were not
and yet you read the Sunday Times
cover to cover
as we fished in Flushing Meadows.

Liquored up at your niece’s wedding
you made the fatal error
of “goosing” my matronly Aunt Gert.
You would have thought
a live squawking fowl
had found its way
under her dress.
Flushed with anger
she clipped you with
her powerful right
pumped up by years of bowling
and sent you sprawling
on the ballroom floor.
You believed that you were
back in Lodz
and wouldn’t get up
before all the damned Cossacks
had gone.
You never went
within ten feet of her again.


(Originally published in Gravel)

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