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.