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times were tough


moonqueen
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times were tough

 

four days since meat

helped feed their bellies;

they were all hungry.

he rose early, dressed,

took water and a heal of bread

and crept from the house.

 

one wheel squeaked, so he carried

the small wagon for a block

before he set it down, turned to watch

the birth of day,

then set out on his mission.

 

he walked the alleys and dirt roads

and all the gutters in all the streets,

in pursuit of any variety of junk

and scrap metal, especially bits of copper.

 

his shadow stretched long, to the east

and still he had to cross back

to the junkman's door,

before the sun dropped more than half

to be home before it vanished.

 

the woman called them to dinner.

refusing to sit, the man bellowed

'where in hell did this meat come from?'

she proudly told her husband their oldest boy

had junked all day to buy it.

 

the depression had taken the man's job

and tried to steal his pride;

he overturned the table, dumping supper

to the floor, his face florid and angry,

'the day my seven year old son feeds

my family, is the day they plant me.

nobody eats the meat.'

 

the boy was hurt but the father

may have hurt more. the woman

motioned to the children, whispered

‘clean it up and eat, the floor’s clean’

and followed him from the room.

they did.

 

 

all the rest of the man's life,

even as the boy became a man,

it was never spoken between them.

 

03-28-11

©tlp 2011

Edited by moonqueen
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goldenlangur

Hi Tammi,

 

Love the story-telling in your poem. :D

 

These lines are quite memorable:

the boy was hurt but the father

may have hurt more. the woman

followed him from the room,

motioned to the children, whispered

'clean it up and eat, the floor's clean'.

they did.

 

all the rest of the man's life,

even as the boy, himself, became a man

it was never spoken between them.

 

 

You show the hardship, the pride of the father and the unspoken but strong bond in the family and particularly between the father and the son.

 

 

Thank you.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Hmmmm ... yes. At first I was thinking India, since those images of children looking for slavageable material are readily available on line. But then you mentioned depression, and I thought 1930's USA.

 

I think this is all too common. It seems the father's pride did get the best of him. Well, that's certainly not the case with me ... I'm no father, but I'll take all the free help I can get! (from anyone, lol)

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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rosschandler

i also liked the telling of this story. there were areas where a comma seemed needed or unneeded. it had a somber feel. very modern type of poetry. it seems to address a real earthy matter. if that makes sense, lol. i read it and appreciated it.

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Ross, Tony and GL, thanks to all of you on this piece, I so appreciate the reads and comments. I've been experimenting with narrative poetry and it feels so different to me. Usually my work is born of gut reactions and mostly 'falls' out of me, but this requires more mental investment than those pieces.

 

Yes, Tony, this took place in 1936, in Illinois. My dad brought home the ground meat (nearly said beef, but just as likely to have been horse meat, I'm told, he doesn't remember that part, exactly) and his dad had a bad emotional reaction. I've always been unable to decide for whom I felt the worst.

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rosschandler

this is a well told story indeed. it really is depressing which is very affective. it is thought provoking and very neatly delivered! good job.

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