Shorty (Poem)

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Shorty, a poem by Patrick

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we called him, stumps strapped
to a mechanic's dolly
legs gone under a coal car in the mine.

The change of shift
   he watched like 
   a minstrel show,
   blackface comedy
   white flashing teeth
   red kerchiefs
   in the company store
   sopping up pop
   to down the dust

In the East End bar
Shorty held forth from the floor
big hand around the Red Cap ale
Knuckles tacky with road tar

   went backwards up the outhouse steps
but nobody ever caught him with his pants down
he's still a mystery on that score

His widow made up for money
he spent on booze
with a pint-size pine box
Short-changed him on pall bearers too
though four out of a possible six
ain´t bad Shorty would have told us
when he wasn't dead
and gone.

Still plunging headlong on his cart
down the dirt road home
in my boy´s heart.
   - April Fool, 1984