Uncle Mortimer had a theory there’s nothing sacred
which he set out to prove.
Ate his way like a weevil
through family business law church the Masons and three
wives before I got to know him.
I don’t trust you
Uncle Mortimer I said and he said I had good reason,
laughing and returning my pewter ashtray from
his pocket to the table. Don’t turn your back he said
I like you.
Then get your hand out of my crotch I said,
Is nothing sacred?
I suppose that you’re inviolate?
Very nearly I said at least selective.
Uncle Mortimer philosophically are all
subjective you show me any real reason to
refrain from anything or for that matter to
do anything I’ll show you a game the rules
like fences in your head Blake’s mind-forged manacles
he said blowing his nose on a flag he carried for that
I couldn’t live without those fences I told him.
More likely you couldn’t die I have nothing to die for.
People are always making contracts you poets for instance
twist everything you want to say to make it fit
some arbitrary form people are always building
altars to sacrifice their Isaacs on people
are always organizing clubs to keep other
people out of always drawing boundaries
saying MINE well property is theft if you
really want to end war crime racism injustice
just remember one man’s sacred cow is another’s
It won’t work I said.
Well you just tell me
What does? You think if we just keep on pulling up
and putting in fences we’ll finally get it right?
what about your theory nothing’s sacred? I
What about it?
I mean suppose it’s wrong
suppose I went over to that bureau drawer and pulled
out something sacred and you saw it and knew right then
it really was?
He watched me warily.
I said I wouldn’t I don’t trust you and besides
the bureau drawer’s not where I keep it but suppose.
You’re lying! he screamed
and clutched his sacred theory close.
I don’t trust you! he screamed
and fled into the night.
[Judson Jerome was an internationally-renown poet whose work was featured in many literary journals at home and abroad. For years, he wrote a column on poetry for Writer’s Digest. In 1973, he retired to live with his family in a rural commune, from which he continued to be involved in free-lance writing, speaking and publishing through Trunk Press. Jerome died in 1991. The featured poem in the public domain, is published with Jerome’s permission, May 1977.]