Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, z"l

HOW TO BE UNCLE SAM

My father knew
how to be
Uncle Sam

Six feet two
he led the
parade

the year
the boys came back
from war.

Splendidly
spatted, his legs
like canes

his dandy coat,
like a
bluebird’s back

he led the parade
and then
a man

(I’ve never been sure
he was honestly
canned

he might have been
consciously
after a laugh)

popped
from the crowd
swinging his hands,

and screamed
“you’re the s.o.b.
who takes

all my money!”
and took
a poke at

my own father.
He missed
by half

an inch; he felt
the wind, my father
later said.

When the cops
grabbed that one,
another man

shouted from the
crowd in a
voice like brass:

“I don’t care if
you take a poke at
Updike,

but don’t you
bother
Uncle Sam!”

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