Working Man

# Title: Breaker boys in #9 Breaker, Hughestown Borough, Pa. Coal Co. Smallest boy is Angelo Ross, (See labels #1953 + #1951.) Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania. # Creator: Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940 photographer # Date Created/Published: 1911 January. # Medium: 1 photographic print. # Part of: Photographs from the records of the National Child Labor Committee (U.S.) # Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-nclc-01139 (color digital file from b&w original print) LC-USZ62-23757 (b&w film copy negative) # Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. # Call Number: LOT 7477, no. 1950 [P&P] # Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

This must have been how it was
to look down from a hillside orchard
to see Reggio or Napoli
shining below for the last time

looking like acres of clean cardboard
as he walked away with what he could carry
hard bread for the journey
lira for his ticket, an address on a small piece of paper

which lead him to the Number 9 coal shaft
in Pittsfield Pennsylvania
where the black dust followed him home
seeping through the windows, mapping his hands

invisibly coating his wife and children
she living her life by the stove and
her round washing machine
he living as a lunch pail headed for the shaft at the last shadow of night

his kids wasting away in the one room school
dozing like all  coal boys learning to be the next generation of cogs
never finding the joy of long division
or what those books were really all about

while the poets Studs and Sandburg and Steinbeck died
and no one spoke of the working man anymore
save pols on Labor Day
droning on about the dignity of work they would never do

And of the glorious heritage of that working man
nothing is left
save a fig tree he was lovingly tending
the day his lungs gave out.



Photography 1880s – 1920s


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Working Man

  1. This is oh so touching toritto! The job kills the working man and his son and the boss don’t care ’cause there’s always another to fill the empty spot. So sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete says:

    The saddest thing is that it still goes on in so many places. And they are supposed to be grateful for the jobs, in a ‘time of austerity.’
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful poetry. “Studs and Sandburg and Steinbeck” would be most appreciative.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jfwknifton says:

    Not a single miner left in our country. Given the levels of crime, and the heroin problems in seemingly every ex-coal town or village, it might well have been cheaper just to pay them to dig up the coal and then put it back again the next day. (Our coal mines were all nationalised before they became uneconomic)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.