Uncle, you are more like my father than I am,

And they say you seem more like me than him.

They say we are just holograms of projected embarrassment.

None of this is real. I was going to write a poem

But then started to read and got distracted.

Who knows where this poem is now, uncle.

No one likes you, uncle, but I do.

You manage to embarrass everyone and I see

How we all have our pitiful illusions

And yet we can’t help what we are. Like you, uncle.

You are an uncle, and you can’t help that.

We are what the world creates of us.  You write poems

In all different styles that wreak havoc among poets

Who stick to their chosen styles and low key rhetoric

Because they don’t want to embarrass anyone!

Humiliation is suicide! Puncturing others’ illusions,

With your immense talent, uncle, you see through

What others see and do, and you do, you do, naked shoe.

But you can’t do that, you mustn’t do that, uncle.

You have children. You say things. Your poems

Make fun of poems others write, which others take seriously,

And the horror is, your poems are much, much better than theirs.

You are going to destroy the world, uncle, with your wit,

And your everything! But I’ve seen you weep, I’ve seen you suffer,

Uncle, I know how on so many levels you think further than the rest.

Now where was that poem I was going to write?

It was going to be great, like you. It was going to be the best.





  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 17, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I love this poem altogether. If someone handed it to me without the name of the poet being made clear or if the wind blew it through an open window in an early draft I would think this poem was written long ago several centuries, possibly in Russia and translated from the Russian.. But the main reason I like it is that, like the poet, I forgot I was reading what the poet was writing and was shocked to realize that in the last stanza. A very unusual shift and a mysterious one.

    I have for days now been reading a book on Andrei Tarkovsky the russian film maker and some say, poet of cinema having seen his films in a retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. shortly after he passed away and in this mood I read this poem.

    Then suddenly this afternoon just resting and thinking again of the images of Tarkovsky and the impossible to describe atmosphere of his films the following poem came to me, a kind of offshoot I think a sprig not of lilac but something else and so, I leave it here…


    poetry is no contest I cried unto the living skies;
    the flickering of images lit by electrical storms
    with no warning

    the telegram from God
    hidden in snows, the windswept;
    the crystal breath of angels,

    who knows,

    at the windowpanes
    where small children barely stand
    after letting go

    the word between here and there.
    the table where the roses were;

    the room where the table was-
    in Shining, long ago;
    the shaken pillars driven further

    underground, outside,

    away, away from sound,
    nearer to glaciers.
    poetry is not a contest

    a competition of herds.
    of who deserves or not.
    where, in any of your shadows

    could you ever find

    its resemblance
    clutching at the grass
    you used to know

    while hurricanes pass
    over you
    or the unnamed stars

    mary angela douglas 17 november 2015

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Mary Angela Douglas, you are Shelley come to life! Thank you.

      I was very happy with this poem. It came to me so suddenly, so casually. I just kind of wrote it down in a languid mood. But when I write bad poems, I’m depressed, and when I write good ones, I’m elated, and sometimes I know the difference!

  2. thomasbrady said,

    November 18, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    “I cried unto the living skies” !!!!

    “While hurricanes pass over you or the unnamed stars” !!!

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      November 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      You quoted the lines I felt most deeply. I have been trying to reconcile for a long time the distance between what i feel, felt even as a child about Poetry which seems ever more vast to me and the poetry “scene” which seems to me more and more small I guess the word is petty and wholly unnecessary and draining to the point of active spiritual oppression. Your poemj about the uncle was so natural conversational and REAL like a great work of art forgetful of itself that draws the reader/viewer/hearer in as into a real life event, moment. Really extraordinary. I can’t imagine this poem being read aloud in a cafe at all no matter how empathetic the crowd there. Like the wind through vast plains or interiors shaken by it, this poem is a confidence, a monologue broken off piece of- a something. This is also how Tarkovsky’s films affect me. You are not watching a film anymore. You are just in Time, yourself, with no witnesses. Beautiful. As for writing good or bad poems I wonder if we have to dislodge something in the way with what we feel are the lesser poems. It seems mysterious. I always want to cry when I think of Emily Dickinson’s phrase in her letter to the rather clueless but kind publisher where she tells him she just wants to know if her verses live. Your poems live in my estimation Thomas Graves even the ones that you think don’t come off so well. And so do your essays. Many thanks for all of them.

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