Our parents worked in the mills.
Southworks, Inland, Bethlehem.
For twenty years,
our dads and granddads sold steel
or worked in blast furnaces while our
moms keypunched and cut checks.
We rode shiny new bicycles every summer.
We caught baseballs with the best gloves.
Our parents rewarded us
with stacks of Atari games
because they could do better than
the licorice whips and yoyos
of their childhood.
We waged war with armies of action figures
flanked across our bedroom floors.
I even knew a kid with a pinball machine.
In December of 1983, the last of us
wrested our nine-year-old bodies
out of bed and rushed downstairs
to find more loot than ever.
So many presents, they had gone unwrapped.
We did not know then
what our parents knew.
The steelworkers’ last will and testament.
He worked 37 years
at Inland Steel,
three to elevens,
He gave them
a third of his stomach,
two toes off his right foot,
and ten years of his life
he would never get to live.
they awarded him
a Swiss pocket watch,
which he kept
closed and dangling
on a shepherd's hook
under a glass dome
on the record cabinet
by the front door
of our old house
on John Street.
About the Author: Joe Gianotti grew up in Whiting, Indiana, an industrial city five minutes from Chicago. He currently teaches English at Lowell High School. He is a proud contributor to Volume II of This is Poetry: The Midwest Poets. Among other poets, he represented Northwest Indiana in the 2014 Five Corners Poetry Readings. His work has been published in Blotterature, Former People: A Journal of Bangs and Whimpers, Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, This, Yes Poetry, and other places. You can follow him on Twitter at @jgianotti10.