Jack Ross Knutson

Still Life in Glass

The radio shattered the glass of the morning
An urgent voice policed my response chiseled from slumber
For a South Carolina farm worker poisoned like a butterfly
In the wake of a pesticide sprayer
From the dirt they lifted his wobbly body
Stumbling, sleep-walking, disoriented 
He could not find the hiding door handle
They laid his body into the sleeping bed of a pick up truck
With the care reserved to preserve an insect
Anesthetized to mounted death
The labor union had a grievance
Three hundred years replied

You think the North won the war Union man
That was just on paper
We still have our slaves
For awhile they were called sharecroppers
Now they speak Spanish
Don't you forget where you are
Sweet potatoes, soybeans, tobacco
The boll weevil took away cotton
But we'll always have our slaves

The telephone shattered like glass 
The creation morning once delicious 
Broke like Eden's fall
The pesticide cigarette smoke made me stumble 
Along tobacco road as
I fumbled the burning receiver
For an excited voice claiming I was already a winner
I agreed and rested the mouthpiece gently
back into its cradle