I am a scuba diving, distance running, retired park ranger grandfather living in South Carolina. My work has appeared in a number of publications including: Guernica, Raleigh Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Vinyl Poetry, The Adroit Journal, and The Monarch Review. I've been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and three-times for the Pushcart Prize. http://kevinheatonpoetry.webstarts.com/
Editor's Note: In an email to me, Kevin wrote about the subject of this poem: My grandfather, Guy Whiteman, was a fascinating fellow, who just happened to be a first cousin to the famous orchestra conductor/composer: Paul Whiteman. The entire family was, and still is, very musical.
He was born in 1896, and could play
just about anything with strings attached.
What pulled most at his heart, was an old fiddle
that he kept on top of a china cabinet
in the corner near his rocking chair where
he fell asleep every night listening to Kansas
City A’s games on a Philco dial radio.
He worked part-time for the highway department
setting out kerosene warning flares that looked
like bowling balls without holes.
Back in the 20’s, and throughout Depression Era
days, he'd set great store in playing that fiddle
at barn raisings and harvest dances, where neighbors
could find brief but welcome respite from hardship
in simple food and fellowship. Civil war ditties
frequented the menu, passed down to him
by the same fingers that first plucked his fiddle.
When his lame shoulder wasn’t throbbing,
and I asked him just right, he’d take her down
off the china cabinet, rosin up the bow, and with
a work boot conducting, take us down dusty,
forgotten pikes lined with blue and gray soldiers
marking cadence to:
Ride a Scotch horse
to Danbury cross,
see an old woman
upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers
and bells on her toes—
she shall have music
wherever she goes, and goes...
©2015 Kevin Heaton