Tuesday, May 10, 2005

iron ore strike, 1977, hibbing minnesota

november on the picket line
couple of games of smear
scattered in front of the taconite plant service road
a beat up trailer
but with a heater
beating back an arctic northwesterly

small groups of workers lost in their own thoughts
no joe hill or woody guthrie songs
i sat squarely in the middle of the road
with the other electricians
drew the queen of spades
decided it was time to shoot for the moon

three and a half months without a paycheck was nothing
like the little steel strike of '37
the ten republic steel memorial day martyrs in chicago
nothing like my father and his comrades
of the spanish civil war
the international brigades
dropping their blood forever in the soil
of barcelona and brunete
but this was our brunete

iron ore was shut down
from the mesabi and vermilion ranges
all the way across the great lakes
to every steel mill of the ohio and monongahela valleys
sparrows point maryland gary indiana south chicago
our brother and sister steelworkers stood by us
as best they could

but when it was all said and done
it was 12,000 iron ore families
that faced down bethlehem    u.s. steel    Ltv
on a lost road in northern minnesota
shoulder to shoulder with clean rigid stands
of white birch   tamarack   poplar   norway pine
the liberating song of the greywolf

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky 2002)

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