From For Your Safety Please Hold On. Published by Nightwood Editions in 2014.
Funny bone of every family. Wears
the same old skull T-shirts for thirty years
to unnerve his mother. Grunts his monosyllabic
moniker—Bob, Tom or Lou—at whomever
he’s introduced to. Go ahead, he winks. Pull
his finger. Braid his chest hair. Top of the odd-
job totem pole. King of the all-you-can-eat.
Aficionado of the naked lady tattoo. Won third
in a moustache competition, punched out first
place. Too young to have fought in Nam,
but knows a guy who knows a guy with no
thumbs. Did time a bunch of times—asks, You
need meth, machine guns, snake’s blood?
Late to your wedding in an alligator tuxedo,
he staggers straight into the open bar. Resurfaces
for his too-loud lecture on the hullabaloo
of marriage. And he’d know from his three, all
great ladies, mind you. He bends the conversation
to confess he’s a lesbian. Wrestles his nephews
one-armed and wins, tosses squealing nieces.
Chases them around the buffet, brandishing
dentures. Roughhouse inventor. Unexpected
best friend of the religious aunt, he pecks her
cheek as they hobble the two-step. Begins
his stories, I had a buddy up in Fort St. James,
summering in Timbuktu. Has buddies for every
occasion. You can tell it’ll be long yarn,
the way his eyes roll up into the water spot
on the ceiling above your head. He yammers
the nails, beats the dead horse, bags the wind,
blows it hot and beery into your face.
It’s a slow shit, man, he whistles, staring
cockeyed into the world’s faulty wiring.