“On Strike for My Union Daddy, West Virginia, 1933” by Mitzi Dorton

Mitzi Dorton


We went early, up on the tracks, and sang to the “scabs,”
John L. Lewis is our leader, I shall not be moved,
ran over to another group of miners, and lunged forward,
I don’t want your greenback dollar,
I don’t want your pocket change,
while the workers tossed pennies,
and me’n the other young ’uns scrambled for the change, 
not knowin’ why they’s laughin’ about a fisted coin.

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets


Mitzi Dorton: “In southern Appalachia, our parents taught to look back, to ponder the old stories and draw in on those who made a path before us. Born in northeastern Tennessee, I grew up as a child with my mother singing old Union coal mining songs from John L. Lewis’s time to me. Little adventures with my father were often traipsing around old family cemeteries or revisiting the sites of his childhood in southwestern Virginia. Even though I left Appalachia for the northeast and in many ways consider myself not typical of my culture, my writing partners at the North Chatham Free Library in New York where I volunteer and attend writing group will tell you my work often takes them not only to the place of my origin, but also to those of my forebears complete with roots and tendrils.” (web)

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