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A Socialist Built My House

That’s what my grandmother told me
while we were waiting
            at the doctor’s office.

The socialist, my great-grandfather, built
with his bare hands the house
             I have lived in my entire life.

I was taken aback
was not expecting this kind of history
             from my own family.

For days I pressed my grandmother
for more details about him, his life,
             whatever she could remember.

That he only had a seventh
grade education, punched
             time cards in a factory

where they worked him double,
paid him single.  He was a union man
             voted Eugene Debs for President.

The history books reaffirmed as much;
the squalid working conditions,
             the swelling of Socialist support.

My great-grandfather was no
isolated incident.  And yet
             he built my house all right.

Now I lay awake at night, running
my fingertips over the fortitude
             of my bedroom wall, wondering

if this is what politics feels like.


Andrew Rihn is a 24 year old student at Kent State University.  His poetry has appeared in Dissident Voice, New Verse News, NeoAmericanist, and Poetic Injustice.  In the winter of 2004-05, he won Left Hook‘s essay contest and the piece was subsequently published in MRZine.  More recently, he won first place in Kent State’s poetry contest for undergraduates.



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