When I Caddied for Uncle Conard

My father and Uncle Conard were two of thirteen children in their family during the Great Depression. Making it worse, their father abandoned them. So Dad had to quit ninth grade to help support the family, and he became a caddy. Uncle Conard was younger, but he also caddied. Years later they would play golf at a public course, and I would carry Uncle Conard’s clubs.


When I Caddied for Uncle Conard…


he taught me the rich vocabulary of anger.

As he’d fling a five iron into the pond

where he’d shanked the ball

or wrap a nine iron around a tree,

he’d aim the profanity at himself

while I waited with his golf bag, quietly.


Mom pawned her Singer each lean summer

for pinto beans and powdered milk.

Come each September Conard gladly bought us boys

cotton shirts and jeans which

bleached in the weekly washings

by June became skin-soft and pale.


A Korean War vet and Catholic who nonetheless loved other men,

we eventually lost track of him and heard years later he’d died

a wasting death, spurned by family and Church,

the man who taught me to love Satchmo and Ella, Basie and Hirt,

Conard, who bought us cotton jeans and shirts

which became pale, fragile as skin.

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I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

2 thoughts on “When I Caddied for Uncle Conard”

  1. Mike, you have inspired me from the first day I walked into your freshman English class. You have continued to do so. I am so touched by this beautiful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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