DEAD MEAT '69
Around the corner from Uncle John's house in Oshkosh
was the butcher shop where I bought banana popsicles
with my own nickels and gazed at all manner of meat.
When he still could walk, we'd head there for bleeding
slabs or to Wiesner's restaurant where I'd order smelt
in a big voice and everyone would laugh and I'd feel
carnivorous and proud. I remember it in that second-
hand way of family lore and home movies -- like eating
a bratwurst in your sleep and waking to taste the burp.
Then Uncle John stopped walking. He sat covered by
an afghan listening to WGN and his beloved Cubbies.
His rail-thin shanks ran parallel beneath the weave and
I gazed mesmerized at their symmetrical meatlessness.
This part I remember as clear as blood sausage broth.
It was exactly a million degrees and Sunday afternoon.
The world smelled like Camel cigarettes and old people.
Uncle John's transistor captured more static than it did
Santo or Kessinger, but we managed to hear them lose
over and over nonetheless -- to brawny NYC boroughs
among others. About the seventh inning stretch, after
crackers, it would be time to ask Uncle John about his
one spiral fingernail, thick and gray like so much gristle.
It had something to do with World War I, I never figured
out exactly what. But I did deduce it had nothing to do
with baseball. Ballgame over we'd wheel kitchenward for
head cheese sandwiches until Uncle John stroked in '69.
September 10th to be exact. These days I avoid meat. I
can take or leave the Cubs. But damn me if I still don't
hate the Mets.
Previously published in Slipstream
Eclectica, Eye Dialect, 3rd Muse, Poet's Canvas, Stirring, etc.
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