From time to time on this blog I’ve offered up a glimpse at some of the blossoms that can be found on my family tree.
Today I take a fond look back at an uncle of mine who was a “beatnik poet” back in the 1950’s. His real name was Willard, but he always insisted on being called “Turk”. My siblings and I just referred to him as “Uncle Ashy”, because he was constantly chain smoking contraband Canadian cigarettes.
Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg called him "Captain Oregano" because of the really crappy marijuana he was always trying to sell them. In an interview many years later, Ginsberg would say of my uncle: “Turk who?”
To give you just an idea of my uncle's work here are just a few titles from his “oeuvre”…
Straight Out of Squaresville
You Couldn’t Dig Me with A Shovel, Daddy-O
Black Beret Blues
Love Poems, For Like…Real Gone Chicks
Thumb and Thumber: A Hipster’s Guide to Hitchhiking
The Smoldering Goatee
Unfortunately, uncle Ashy never got around to actually writing those books…or any others for that matter. His entire literary output consists of this single poem...
The sax is blowin’ hot
Cups and saucers rattle around
Like old arthritic bones
Clickity Clack…Clickity Clack!
Even “Mary Jane” is making the scene
When in busts the fuzz to douse her fiery kiss
Like an ice water enema
Splish, Splash…Splish, Splash!
Well, the fifties gave way to the sixties and my uncle tried to keep pace with the changing times. Sadly, before he cold find his place in this new counter culture, he was killed in a tie-dying accident in Jerry Garcia’s basement.
Uncle Ashy was of course, cremated. It just seemed so fitting that his earthly remains should be transformed into the very substance we most associated him with…it’s like, almost poetic, daddy-o.
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