January 2006 /Volume Seven / Issue One
Larry S. Lafferty

Tarring a roof in July keeps you honest
Until the tar climbs up your boots,
Melts your denim, stripes your arms,
You see its mouth watering
For your throat, your eyes.
Black heat seals it all.

Then your fat uncle is the lie
The tar kept away from you.
Leave enough of yourself on a roof,
In the tar, you'll smother him
On another hot day, the fat pig.

Made you cut garbage scrap tin
Into salvage ducts, your thumbs
And fingers bloody up.
The smell of tin in the blood,
The feel of blood in the tin,
Pulsing red compromise.
What will we make with this?
Silver medal, coppery blood memories
Crawl up your brain,
Tin blood knocks it down, kicks it away
With steel-toes, bleeding it
The copper runs away,
Sticking smartly to the Hustler
Centerfolds on his bathroom walls,
Back rooms. Sucking
Up sweat, sawdust, tin scrap,
Breathing it back on you
When you stare
Too long at dirty women
Purer than fat uncles.

Blood and tin, the mark you leave.
And tar
And roof
And collapse
Smothering fat uncles who chased
You up a ladder to a point unseen.
Now you do,
You fall like a hammer,
Smear his provincial ignorance
On a paint-drop canvas
With his ice-pick wife and shitless mother.
Tar the roof with that.
A job to relish, worth waiting for
If you can stomach their stink.
They stain and cling and cover a roof,
Like their acid-worn family,
Rotted and weak.
Wait for the New Year's Eve
Countdown, Hi Dick Clark!

Fat uncles say, Hey there young fella,
How 'bout a Coke?
I bring you a tumbler full
With ice. You take it with one hand,
Slurping the top, grab me with your free hand,
You say, Let's Indian-wrestle, which means
You grab my hand, my arm, crush them,
See who can move who.
You never failed to push me down
Hard with your fatty meanness,
Leached out of a taffy-pull
Lifetime of stuttering weakness.
And some years later,
Something grabs fat uncles
By the hand, by the arm,
And I say, Hey there old fella,
How 'bout a heart attack?
Let's Indian wrestle now,
I'm still standing here.