My uncle, Frank, used to talk about being in the dog house
When we all lived together growing up,
He was ten years older than me,
With pretentions of becoming an artist or musician
While everybody else, but me, thought him crazy.
A mountain of a man, Frank did the work of three men
And my grandfather never let him forget it,
“What do you need to be an artist for,
When you can work like that?” he said.
Sometimes, I posed in the kitchen for Frank,
Glorious morning light fall over us and the tiles
With Frank desperate to capture it all,
But never could.
Sometimes, he even let me hold his guitar
Putting my fingers in the right places
So I could make chords
Only my chords never sounded
As his chords did,
And he said his chords
Were never good enough
I loved that man better than a father
Because he was the father I never had
But he was always down on himself,
Always in the dog house, he claimed
Always trying to make up for flaws
Other people saw in him,
But I could never see
He claimed he always said and did
The wrong things at the wrong time
And always felt bad about it,
Worse than grandpa could make him feel
“You can’t feel good about yourself
When you know you’ve done wrong,
And don’t know what you can do
To make it right again,” he said.
For years, I didn’t understand what he meant,
But now I do,
Because I’m the one in the dog house now,
And don’t know any more than Frank did
how to get myself out.