The Orange Room Review

Accessible poetry of substance

Uncle Herman

by Kevin Heaton

Uncle Herman broke Johnny's
back with a two-by-four
for not finishing the chores
on time. Johnny was always
quiet and gentle.

If Aunt Alice ever spoke out-
of-turn, or was late with supper;
he would beat her, and snatch
fists full of hair from her head.
Sometimes, she would run away,
then he'd beg, and she'd go back.

His face was prune pit-picked,
and covered in twenty-year
old blackheads; long past ripe.
He farmed lush, fertile acres
of Kansas wheatland, but their
shack had dirt floors. Each field
sprouted oil jacks pumping black
gold day and night, but that miser
counted every penny.

At reunions, he'd follow me out
to the porch swing, roll cigarettes,
and tell me stories about hidden
Civil War guns and buried treasure.

All I could think about was
that two-by-four.

Pushcart Prize nominee KEVIN HEATON writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including: Raleigh Review, Foundling Review, The Honey Land Review, and Mason's Road. His fourth chapbook, Chronicles, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in early 2012. He is a Best of the Net 2011 nominee.