The Sinking of Uncle Joe

The Sinking of Uncle Joe

By David Himmel

My wife had slaved over a crockpot for a few minutes that morning
Prepping what would be our evening’s meal:
Italian beef and Aunt Becky’s Cheesy Potatoes. 

With the heir asleep,
My run complete,
And a plate of the shredded, potatoes and meat
We settled into our seats,
To watch the battle of diversity between two old honkys,
A liberal rich girl from upstate New York,
And a black woman from California—
Along with a few others hardly worth the mention—
(Was someone not wearing a tie?)
Debate the day’s issues of diversity. 

My wife had just had a shower.
Her hair smelled fresh,
her moisturized scalp drew me in.
And I thought: Joe Biden would love to get a whiff of this.

 The poor, old bastard.
Who wouldn’t prefer the relaxing scent of a woman’s hair
To being trounced for a four-decades’ old alliance
With what was just forever solidified as the Wrong Side of History. 

As if his almost thirty-year pass on how he treated Ms. Hill on the Hill
Was the result of segregationist and patriarchal knee-jerk influence.
But the Hon. Clarence Thomas was black.
And, Hey! Uncle Joe worked with Barack Obama!
He’s got black friends. He’s not a racist. Just ask him. 

And he’s not a close-talker or a personal space-invader.
Just ask him.
He’ll put his hands on your shoulders and whisper:
“Hey, now… I’m your Uncle Joe. Remember Obama?” 

Then, sadly, and unexpectedly, before you can answer or squirm away
He’ll say mostly to himself with disappointment, “Yeah… me, too.”

As we watched with horseradish and sweet-peppered breath,
I thought of how short-sighted Uncle Joe
And that author lady down at the end talking about a battlefield of love
Were for railing against The Donald
When the problems facing us extend deeper than Trump’s orangey surface. 

And then I thought of Pat Benatar
Because love is a battlefield. 

And how Uncle Joe has fallen from grace
Like a reluctant fallen angel who wanted to do good
But too much enjoyed the music and humor of the Satanic demons
To stay on the right side of Good.
If there can ever be such a thing in this game of Politics.

He said he was still carrying the torch—old Uncle Joe.
A lot of good that does when the torch has been extinguished
By the waves of change
And better showpersonship
And a hole-punched record that extends further back than the youth vote is old. 

I don’t feel bad.
My stomach is full.
Only I can smell my wife’s scalp tonight and ever.
Uncle Joe had his time.
He should enjoy the twisted sainthood Obama’s Library will give him
On Chicago’s Southside. 

Where people who look like Kamala Harris
Do their best to overcome
The hell Chicago bestowed on them
Back when Uncle Joe first held that torch high overhead
Balancing himself on the bowsprit
As his ship slowly sailed into the depths
Of a new time where he just didn’t belong.

Notes from the Post-it Wall | Week of June 23, 2019

Notes from the Post-it Wall | Week of June 23, 2019

What We Learned from the First Democratic Presidential Debate

What We Learned from the First Democratic Presidential Debate