King of the Bermuda Triangle

The story of my uncle who’d been shot in the knee       

            at Southern Railway

got complicated by the way in which Mama was telling it

while we boxed up my grandma’s dresses

after her open-casket funeral.  Then the same story of how he

later sued

the trainyard where he happened to be working

a twelve-hour shift and rolling a joint with a Zig-Zag as sheer

            as Bible paper

            prior to the bullet smashing his bone

got complicated by the picture on the Zig-Zag’s orange booklet.


Years later that cover with some French guy’s face on it

reminded me of my bearded uncle 

and looked like a Rastafarian Jesus

whose smirk and tiny rigid hands holding papers and a cigarette 

freaked me out while under the hypnotic

gris-gris of liquid acid.

Yet the obvious question of the next story is

            what did my uncle do with the money from the railroad?

Didn’t he get rich quick

with his pension and a monthly disability check?


My uncle high-tailed it outta there, all right; he left New Orleans

in a 90-foot schooner he named  

The Tabitha C

sailing right through the Bermuda Triangle on a dare

exploring the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands,

Cuba, the Dominican Republic

and all those other islands named St. something or other.

My uncle, captain of his world,         

            King of the Bermuda Triangle

and his shenanigans are the stuff of high-falutin’ storytelling

and madman quests in epic poetry.

But how much are you willing to bet that my uncle having learned how to con

            from his Carni father

didn’t pay the gunman and stage getting shot at Southern Railway

as a way of giving the finger to another Uncle

so he wouldn’t have to work ever again

            for chump change?

Can I say that all con-artists are made out of cotton-candy and      


and bittersweet memories about how to spit-shine boots, make the bed every morning at 5 a.m.,

            dismantle a gun and shave a perfect crew-cut?

And what about the story about the time my uncle showed me a sticky brick

            sealed in a ziploc bag

he hid in the backroom of my grandma’s house

            and how he laughed at me for not knowing

what weed looked like

            at twelve-years old?


Will I ever be like my uncle, free and flouting authority, letting my freak flag fly high

and conning the government into giving me the American Dream

or smoking spliffs and dead reckoning my way

on a house boat

            paid off with cold hard cash?

And isn’t that the story of the great unknown?  

And doesn’t it begin with a mystery?  And, moreover, doesn’t it end

with a feeling that stuns like a bullet?

And is that feeling a thing that you hunt in the wild

And if you find and kill it

mount it on a wall and tell stories about it

to remember it existed?