Poetry: REMEMBERING UNCLE JACK by Patrick James Dunagan

Photo by Camille Villanueva

Look. My uncle is designing a cathedral
although he has not been sponsored by any church
.—Evan S. Connell

Look. My Great Uncle Jack did design a cathedral
blueprints received from his god whatever version
you believe in. Make it your own. The message
was clear: the design came from beyond.

He sat up late with pointed felt cap, all wizard,
explaining this to Christina and I. Later, or perhaps
earlier that day, we wandered the abandoned seeming
peripheries of the property just outside Round Valley
where he lived with his wife Mimi all those years
after San Francisco where they had a loft at 425 Potrero
atop a glass factory with rooftop garden and his own kiln,
this was in the sixties.

Much of his art seemed pointedly scattered across the property
embedded throughout the old greenhouse & dilapidated outbuildings
the sight left us rather bewildered. No less so however than his talk
that night spinning grand arches with vaulted ceilings
heights from which we swilled down his visions & recitations.

There were Egyptian references as I recall. Each exaltation
coming immediately after the next. His language arriving in a rush.
A blurred memory of family I hardly knew. He’s since passed
Mimi too. But his cathedral vision burns on.

Patrick James Dunagan lives in San Francisco and works at Gleeson Library for the University of San Francisco.

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