October 17, 2012



by John Beecher

old man John the melter
wouldn't tap steel till it was right
and he let the superintendents rave
he didn't give a damn about tonnage
but he did give a damn about steel
so they put him on the street
but he did have plenty of money
and he drove up and down in his "Wily Knecht"
a floatin pallus he called it
with a Pittsburg stogie in his whiskers
and played poker in the Elks club
and the steel got sorrier and sorrier
and rails got to breaking under trains
and the railroads quit buying
and the mill shut down
and then the superintendents asked old man John
to come and tell them what was wrong with the steel
and he told them
too many superintendents

from Report to the Stockholders & Other Poems, 1962

[John Beecher was a very good poet of working class life and struggle, notable for having kept the oppression of Black folk front and center in much of his writing--he grew up white, in Alabama. This one deals with another topic, the skills workers have and the power it gives them, which has driven so much of the last decades of capitalist deskilling and cybernation in the workplace. You can hear Beecher read it himself by clicking the little arrow by 102 here, and find five more of his best here.]

1 comment:

John's Grandson said...

There's a video here, btw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd_0ZORNAEI&feature=share&list=PLDF47EF8EB96DEDC3