frank stemper


for solo voice


AVUNCULAR by Rodney Jones

He told us lust would turn, transmogrify
to a plural version of mother love.
Friendship improved on that. A few
at sixty would give more
than they kept for themselves.

But parents, they had an expiration
date, like fish or milk.
They were like Jehovah with Jesus.
One day they looked up
and their duties were done.

How late he saw his orphan’s portion of light.
And the spiritual life was surrogate.
Pacifiers and placebos. Only
perspective had meaning now.
Space-time, the anti-hubris, the hope

he might still marry,
if General Electric stayed up,
and become
some fifty-five-year-old’s smiling
eighty-seven-year-old son-in-law.