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James Tate
James Tate
The author of numerous collections of poetry, James Tate's collection Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award...
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My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry

 
by James Tate

There's a fortune to be made in just about everything 
in this country, somebody's father had to invent 
everything--baby food, tractors, rat poisoning. 
My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning 
of time. They invented poverty and bad taste
and getting by and taking it from the boss. 
O my mother goes around chewing her nails and 
spitting them in a jar: You shouldn't be ashamed 
of yourself she says, think of your family. 
My family I say what have they ever done but 
paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes 
of plastic squalor and human degradation.
Well then think of your great great etc. Uncle 
Patrick Henry.






From Absences, published by Atlantic Monthly Press, 1972. Copyright © 1972 by James Tate. Reprinted with permission.
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