NEVER SAY NO by Thomas Brzezina




My father’s father
worked the coal mines
in Poland,
then in Pennsylvania,
before he moved to Detroit
for the factory pay.

Here, he became
a committed union man,
attended secret meetings,
and made impassioned speeches.

There was a story (told to me
by a neighborhood woman)
about him jumping out
of a window,
narrowly escaping
the anti-union thugs.

He had a rose garden.
He collected coins.
He made Christmas soup,
with prunes and lima beans.
He called bad drivers, hillbillies.
He once told me, never say no.

When he was dying
of emphysema,
his children dutifully enforced
the doctor’s ban on smoking.
He would pound the table,
vehemently demanding
cigarettes in Polish.

I caught him once,
alone in the kitchen,
staring into the mouth of a coal mine,
lighting matches,
and dropping them into
a black ashtray.

One Response to “NEVER SAY NO by Thomas Brzezina”

  1. and do you never say no? some nice memories, he was a strong man

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