Never had a room of my own until

I was sixteen,

always had a bed;

my two brothers and uncle

had beds too

same room;

my uncle came home late

stomping the stairs and

falling into bed like a tree trunk

into empty tin cans;

his snores were like a language

of the deaf and dumb:

in the morning he retched

into the toilet then stumped

to his bed—fat man on Popsicle stick legs—

and sat to put on his gas station uniform

grunting as he bent

to tug up socks.

A bastard he was who gave me

backhanded slaps and kicks from

his size ten shoes and once whipped me

with his belt as I squirmed on the back yard lawn

howling loud enough for the neighbors and

the world to hear

but they never did.