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The Uncles
Jan Duncan-O'Neal

On summer Sundays my seven uncles
burst through the door with flower pots
of American Beauty rose for Grandma.
Dressed in starched white shirts,
they all scrubbed up after
a week’s work at the stockyards.
These tall, red headed men
leaned down to swoop up teensy
Grandma in their strong arms.
They carried memories
of family stories,
each with his own version
of the truth that neither God
nor Grandma fully understood.
I knew when to laugh until
their Irish tempers raged
like the rumbling before
a summer storm blows in.
Sudden surges of electric
energy and lightning flashed.
Then they trudged onto the porch,
cooled off, smothered me in hugs,
kissed Grandma good-bye and drove
their freshly washed cars into evening.
From Voices: Lost and Found (The Lives You Touch Publications, 2011). 
Used with the author’s permission.



A long-time children’s librarian, Jan Duncan-O’Neal told stories to children and did workshops nationally until her retirement ten years ago. Soon after, she turned from writing educational resource books to creating poems. Much of her poetry is narrative, influenced by her storytelling background. “Poetry challenges me more than anything else I’ve ever done,” says Jan. “To have some of my work published has been a high point in my life.” The feature poem in her chapbook, “Lost Voices,” was a Pushcart Nominee.  Currently an editor for I-70 Review, Jan lives with husband, Bill Duncan-O’Neal (who proudly shares this double name), in Overland Park, Kansas.

Post New Comment:
Beautifully written, Jan. Your writing produces great visual images.
Posted 05/05/2013 09:48 AM
Filled with wonderful real-life details. The love, the tempers, the love.
Posted 05/04/2013 11:20 AM
I sat on Gran'ma's lap and played hookie in first grade as she took me to the local park during the afternoon session. It doesn't get any more memorable than that. I turned out to be the most faithful at any program I joined and won attendance awards later on in school, was on the Arista. Perhaps we should be carried around by Gran'ma.
Posted 05/04/2013 09:27 AM
Wonderful caught moments in time. Can see their red heads, hear the tempers rumbling, feel the swoop. Thank you for your story. Marilyn Zelke-Windau
Posted 05/04/2013 08:20 AM
I love this! My favorite image is of the uncles swooping up teensy Grandma...
Posted 05/04/2013 07:22 AM

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