My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry

By James Tate

There’s a fortune to be made in just about everything
in this country, somebody’s father had to invent
everything–baby food, tractors, rat poisoning.
My family’s obviously done nothing since the beginning
of time. They invented poverty and bad taste
and getting by and taking it from the boss.
O my mother goes around chewing her nails and
spitting them in a jar: You shouldn’t be ashamed
of yourself she says, think of your family.
My family I say what have they ever done but
paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes
of plastic squalor and human degradation.
Well then think of your great great etc. Uncle
Patrick Henry.

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