Crazy Uncle Joe


he piles his bricks he piles his bricks alone
while overhead the basement skylight flicks
an incessant phosphorescent monochrome
he piles one brick then two then one-oh-six
scrape-slips the last so tight it barely fits
and thinks no mortar there in ancient rome
no glue hell lights were made by rubbing sticks
and they made do with it they felt at home
with just their fists no mathemagic tricks
for them no sorrow in a dial tone
no wives so sad they’d slit their tiny wrists
to sleep forever still and stacked like stone
so he piles his bricks he piles them all alone
his mind a startled bug its shell outgrown

12 thoughts on “Crazy Uncle Joe

  1. Jeez, Tim, you can (or could) write in meter and rhyme and the right number of lines for a sonnet and still have the poem sound entirely modern, all purposeful and all wild. Remarkable.

    I hope Josephina will soon start sleeping again.

  2. I am seeing more and more guidelines saying that if the poem appeared on a personal blog it is still considered unpublished. But, so many online “journals” are simply blogs too, Asphodel Madness, Clutching at Straws, hundreds of others. So, these places are somehow different and cause the poem to be considered “previously published”. Doesn’t make much sense really.

  3. I think there’s an easy distinction, which is just self-publication. When I post this poem here, it’s just me deciding to post it. No one external is saying, This is a good poem, you should read it. It only works for true art, which isn’t commodified, and there are problems after the fact (anyone could steal the poem from my blog and repost it, what does that mean?) but the line itself seems pretty simple to me.

  4. I of course understand the distinction that has been made, but it just doesn’t make much sense except in a letter of the law kind of way. I mean, what is the SPIRIT of this kind of law? The no previously published poem law? Or, is it even a law? I’ve had a few poems slip through twice here and there and I’ve never been sued or threatened to be sued. Cartoonists have syndicated cartoons appear simultaneously througout the country, columnists too. It’s just stupid, really, to me, this no previously published poem blanket regarding poems. And to make a distinction between a personal blog and someone else’s blog is stupid too.

  5. The spirit is that no one wants to read the same poems over and over again. Do you? Magazines are for new poems. If you don’t get that, then it’s all just vanity. And all your other qualms are resolved through that premise.

  6. Yes, good, that is the spirit of it, but then why the strict rules? Before the net I was just as frustrated about this as I am now. I would publish a poem in some small town in California in a magazine with 300 copies, and I was then prohibited from publishing the same poem in a journal in Alabama with a press run of 200 copies. Often I would discover later that the editors didn’t even know of each others’ existence! What spirit would I have violated by publishing the same poem twice? I am arguing this because in the small press this is MORE OFTEN the case than not.

  7. And what about the spirit of the writer? Vanity, sure. But, still, the writer wants the poems to be READ. To be read by as many people as possible. It’s a big country and a big world, even with the web, and the writing communities tend to be closed and small quartered, with readers who rarely venture out, even to Google someone’s name. I applaud the journals who are willing to republish a poem, because they have never read it and assume a lot of their readers have never read it either.

  8. Lovely sonnet. Seems to follow the Italian form (6×6) rather than English (4x4x4) in terms of where its ideas turn. Particularly liked “no wives so sad they’d slit their tiny wrists” in the second half of the second sextet. Gives it emotional substance, right before the couplet, and that killer ending line. A keeper for sure.

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