Uncle Bimmy lived up Breakneck
in a doublewide that sat out back
the property of Grandpa Heck.
He'd flick his cigarette then smack
a stick against the fence line and
we'd come zinging up the lot.
Kneeling in the pungent dust
the evening cast about his home
he'd drag the heavy stone off
the well—we'd gather round—creep
closer—peering down—as one
good hand stirred away the webs
knit above the dankness. He'd speak
of vapor that wasn't vapor—
of smoke that stunk like breath—like hell
—the spore of something smoldering—
a seething in the hole. He'd say
this is what we must inhale
to understand our kin. We ran
—but one—alone I put my mouth
to pipe—that rusting way in.
I had an Uncle Jimmy who lived on Breakneck Avenue in a failing coal and coke town in Pennsylvania.