Mudlark No. 60 (2016)


At fourteen hitching from his uncle’s farm into Wheeling
on a dead-end lead from one of the cousins, even 
into his 60s, on his two-week vacations

with his maps and spiral pads
scouring every bone yard on both sides
of the Ohio.

And between vacations — nights
laying out white bread and ready-sliced 
cheese, then too soon 5:00 a.m. and out the door

toting the lunchbox shaped like an iron lung,
like the Goodyear Aircraft hanger, nine hours 
ropedancing the boss and the men, the din

and the backbiting. Then home to a wife
with “nerves,” kids in our rooms,
radios full blast.

I’d left my father’s bones behind and the widowed 
steel town where I grew up — easily, I’d always said. 

Let us praise Fulgencia Calzada.  
He was the crowd. He was there.

And praise my father, always looking
for his own father. My lonely man.

St. Dymphna, pray for us,
poor sinners waiting at the Boys’ Club
for handouts from United Way,

who put in 20 years
and didn’t see it coming.
Forgive us

at the bank that wants its money back
for checks the mill reneged on.
Restore our retirement fund, our Workers’ Comp.

In our last illness,
at the time of death,
have mercy.

Pray for us.

Sue D. Burton | Highway to  Nada
Contents | Mudlark No. 60 (2016)