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Poetry - "All In The Family"

All In The Family

By Eben W. Keyes II


I've just spent the whole day with my forebears,

In a book on my gnarled family tree--

First the greats, then the great-greats, then more pairs

Of parents of parents of me.

Some lived all their lives in the old land,

Some crossed the Atlantic for pelf

Some founded a new and untold land,

And all of them founded myself.

As I studied these stern, solemn faces,

And read of those cold, careful lives,

I was struck by an absence of graces,

Of humor, of whimsy, of drives.

They didn't get drunk or read raw books

Or have a quick fling in the pines,

There's a presence of ledgers and law books,

A lacking of roses and wines.

Where's the gent with his eyes crossed, and grinning?

Where's the lady with leaves in her hair?

Or a couple caught lustily sinning?

Alas, there are none of them there.

No ship-launching Helens, no Hectors,

No valiant and doomed cavaliers.

They all look like customs inspectors,

Though they span over three hundred years.

They knew they were Heaven's anointed,

As they knelt every Sunday to pray,

And they must have been quite disappointed

That so few were so righteous as they.

When they mused, it was chiefly on chickens,

When they dreamt, it was mainly of corn.

Then they did the Lord's work like the dickens,

And another pink forebear was born.

When my life gets unkempt and frenetic,

And there's headache and heartache to spare,

I'm convinced that my qualms aren't genetic...

My line is so thoroughly square

So upright, so uptight and hearty,

I don't think that I'd much like to be

Stuck in chit - chat with them at a party...

But then I don't think they'd like me.


c. 1991 Eben W. Keyes II

New York, N.Y.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

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