Never got to “KNOW” this man,
One time coal miner, blaster,
Turned auto assembly line worker.
Union militant, enforcer,
Quick to violence,
Beer swelling, whiskey consuming,
He left the coal mines in Pennsylvania,
An explosive expert,
A mine accident left him unable to work,
So he brought his family to Michigan for work.
Now this is the story I’ve been told,
But I remember no disfigurement; old photos show no trace of pain,
So I ask myself “Why did he leave that land?”
Was there scandal or shame? Guess I’ll never know.
He died just after I turned five.
And only two memories of him survive,
Buried in the recesses of my mind,
No hugs or love or soft spoken words, only these two.
I was sitting by his chair playing,
He was seated, reclining.
Hams beer on the table,
Newspaper in hand.
His glasses shoved up on his forehead.
When suddenly the silence was broken,
“Grace where the hell are my glasses?”
I ran crying to find my mother.
I was told that he died, had gone away.
Of course I didn’t understand, only a child of five,
So I pulled a chair to the coffin, to look down on him,
Only these two memories survive.
I have heard stories and tales,
His favorite pointer was bred by a mutt,
The puppies were placed into a sack,
Tossed into a rain barrel to drown.
When a dog would “no longer hunt”,
He shot them dead in the woods,
What good is a dog that won’t hunt?
Not worth the food to keep them alive.
Enforcing his caucus in the union.
Strong arming a vote,
Breaking the legs of a vocal dissident,
Support his cause or else.
A son injured in a sledding accident,
Almost scalping himself,
Can’t waste the money on a doctor or medical care,
Held him down and sowed it back in place,
A son who wouldn’t leave the other boys “alone” at night,
He would tie his hands behind back and make him sleep like that
Missed my parents wedding because of work,
Trying and (failing) to outdrink my Dad,
Like I said I never “KNEW” him,
These are the tales I was told,
Funny though how no one spoke good things,
Of their father, grandfather, brother.
Suddenly after all these years,
He begins to haunt me,
I wish he would go away,
He still scares me.
Copyright Roy Richard