Skinny Died When I Was 25
by Michael Feld Simon

My third grandfather, he had a few acres, an oil well,
a landing strip and plane, gave me my first view of the world
as miniature. He taught me to pull the ears on a flivver,
to imagine black holes. He descended from the same ape
who gave us Einstein and Rube Goldberg. He believed

city kids have only the literature of soups and cereals,
never wondering among live, random, ruminating names
or standing at the edge of thirty head of verbs, milling about,
the syntax bull long gone, waiting till spring.

Skinny dreamed up the first verse ranch: words on cows.
I painted verbs, sister painted nouns.
Grade schoolers came to the ranch to scrawl adverbs.

Herds wandered There Fitted Hear Wind Run Footprint
might be grazing as you drive by. Folks would stop
again and again, pay admission, take the guided tour,
read the moving herd. The day after the funeral,

there were many who put real doubt in me.
For in such a Christian country, what end awaited a skeptic,
a rustic philosopher, even if he were fire chief, and water
He was the only man I sent a voice trailing after.
Just to see if he was in torment.

Previously published in God’s Cowlick, (2022)


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