Uncle

the late night highway’s molting like a senile old snake

hissing lane-change lullabies to me then shaking me awake

he’s in the back he’s buckled tight i hope he naps some of the ride

i’m bracing for the impact of each hi-pitched humming bridge

but there’s no sleeping and the question remains

was he drunk or dodging potholes fading fast or changing lanes

and the seat belt digs in too much these days

it’s too tight but i won’t risk it so i sit up nice and straight

while the interstate rumble strip complains

and he shakes his head and changes lanes

and we call it a vacation for the backseat buckled kid

who never knew the angel dead and gone and burned and hid like i did

stay awake man stay alert the thoughts won’t ever cease

steep in loose leaf memories until it’s easy being green or eat

ice cream high with sprinkles sprayed with pressurized whipped cream

cause fudge of chocolate was his favorite way to quell the anxious dreams

but he’s not sleeping on sugary bones

he’s jacked up on the candy from great uncle’s hospice home

and we’ll be leaving in a week or so

cause the man who first believed in me will finally not be old

and we’ll drive out to boulder

trade the cold air for colder

and we’ll call it a vacation for the backseat buckled kid

who never knew the angel deal and gone and burned and hid

there’s no love without the pain so i boxed up both and i hid them away

in the basement by the wall we painted gender-neutral grey

but he’ll get older he’ll get in he’ll cut he’ll rip the tape

and far be it from me to keep the good and the bad at bay

but at least for today

we don’t call it a wake

we call it a vacation for the backseat buckled kid

who never knew the angel dead and gone and burned and hid