Dutiful usher at Ragged Rock
Christian Assembly, Uncle Grady
was a wannabe badass. Aunt Velma put an end
to that with scriptures out loud at every sitdown
meal. He’d take long fishing trips
to Eva Harbor, steer his  ‘75 Bubble Top Eliminator

to the middle of the Tennessee River where he’d rant
full-throated. Cook the shit—the god damn living
daylights—out of that ugly bottom feeder. On weekends
he’d lock himself in the garage to make his own
lures with wood, paper clips, a piece of deer
antler or an empty rifle casing. Mama
said he hit Velma once & cousin Merle said

before Viet Nam Grady planned a move to Olive Grove
to attend the Memphis College of Art. I found a 1971
Playboy & a rough charcoal
sketch of a nude under a stack
of bleached-out towels in the half
bath next to his workroom, one spot
Aunt Velma never cleaned. I felt something
delicate & brittle in him lurking like the spiked
stem of a Dark Night rose. Grady never

laid a hand on me. Sometimes he broke
away, a thin needle off a block
of red pine or the curled peel
of an Elberta nectarine. That time he liquored up
and belted perfect harmony with his 33 1⁄3
rpm long-playing collectible, Johnny Cash
With His Hot and Blue Guitar.