Paint Brushes & Booze: 8-Track for Uncle Kent by Yolanda Franklin

“Memories don’t live like people do.” ~Angie Stone

Thought everyone had at least one uncle
who’s a modern day Stagg-o-lee that pimps

a Kangol, & keeps a weed stash in the top
drawer of a nightstand, behind a pearl-

handled pocket knife he once used to shave
a man of his pride, then reused it to pop

open the caked lid of a paint can & then flicked
back the blade to release the ooze from inside

a Natural Light in his “love shack,” built
from beams of condemned houses—

a shotgun scaffold with a tin roof so thin
rain showers sound like gunshots, thick

insulation of peeping toms seeping from faux- 
plywood walls to eye wallpaper of Jet beauty

centerfolds. I imagined my uncle as the Black Hugh
Hefner, Dolemite reincarnate who drove the white-

ibis ‘65 hardtop Dodge Dart with crimson interior
my father bartered for refurbishing, in exchange for

the German Shepherds he trained for Tallahassee
PD’s K-9 unit, afterhours & on days off from the steady

painting job that left an ash of primer so thick, on marble- 
sized knuckles, cocoa butter couldn’t quench it. These

same hands extend a blunt rolled airtight out a car
window as a nod of advice, & a squint thru blood-

shot eyes led lifelong lessons on how to master pressure
points on my cousins’ hands & neck —an exercise in pain

tolerance carried over to a good card game of knuckles that’d
last as long as Jackie (his heavy-steady) could tolerate the screams

over her high, which was shorter than the width of their blue- 
jean bellbottoms & those sideburns. Send me, shotgun

in that Dodge Dart as the Isleys croon drifting on a memory, 
ain’t no place I’d rather be from the 8-track console. 

Click here for PDF version. 

Contributor Notes

Yolanda J. Franklin’s work is forthcoming or has appeared in PMS: poemmemoirstory, Sugar House ReviewCrab Orchard Review’s American South IssueThe Hoot & Howl of the Owl Anthology of Hurston Wright Writers’ Week, SPECS: Journal of Arts & Culture’s Kaleidoscopic Points Issue. Her awards include a 2012 Cave Canem fellowship, the 2013 Kingsbury Award, and several scholarships, including a summer at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Indiana Writer’s Week, and Colrain Poetry Manuscript Workshop. Her collection of poems, Ruined Nylons, was a finalist for the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Award. She is a graduate of Lesley University's MFA Writing Program and is a doctoral candidate at Florida State University.