He sat in an old wooden porch swing,
Elbows on knees; Salem Menthol burning down.
Thinking, smoking, Salems his favorite thing.
Fingers colored over time a deep tar brown.
Veteran of a war long ago won,
Toured Europe in a half track;
Battling descendants of the Hun.
Never hearing “Fallback men, fallback!”
He came back to the hills of north Mississippi,
Encumbered not by marriage or job,
Feeling triumphant as Antony at Philippi;
then Papa reminded him of the crop!
Seasonal was his trade, ranging near to far.
Picking cotton, pulling corn, hauling hay;
maybe in time, money for a beat up car.
In 1946 this was the life of Carl Ray.
Papa died that year, leaving behind daughters and sons.
Carl Ray was the youngest one.
The family grew those next few years;
many a young ‘un.
Carl Ray was alone, but a man, so no tears.
Then a young widow came into his life.
She as poor as he but the perfect fit.
Within a year Carl Ray had a wife.
Nannie loved his intelligence and dry wit.
Another year and after much luck,
A beautiful red headed son of buck.
For Carl Ray the middle years flew.
His work was hard, his pleasures few.
But on Saturday always the same,
Work, burgers and a baseball game.
Scant few hours for father and son,
But Carl loved Saturday’s, every one!
Years flew by and as is often the case
Tobacco to his body laid waste.
For Salem’s will never be a friend.
Death came painfully and slow,
The red haired man whispering:
“It’s okay Daddy, I’m here, so you can go.”
Copyright © Jimmy Coker | Year Posted 2018
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