Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

March 15, 2016

"Communists of the heart without theory": About Me and mine, Andrew Taylor

I am from workers, fishers, swilers -
my grandma's father was called "Dawe Gunner"
a sharpshooter he picked off old harps
from afar
Swinging his father’s musket to the left or right…

But born and bred
from the open seas
those hungry seasons-

like the Dirty Thirties
of my great uncles and aunts
when they say some ate grass
under the faithless Union Jack,
I was nursed on their ruin,

Their dark sweet stories…
Descending from their line
I saw life through their lenses
those eyes of dark
or light complected Newfoundlanders
the restless Scots,
the French of the west,
through the eyes
of the unmentionable ‘Labrador Wives’
(we are robbed of our Metis history to this day)

of those gentle workmen, oppressed apprentices,
good churchmen bound to heartless merchants,
communists of the heart without theory,
an ancestry stretching


the guts and holes of devon and cornwall,
in the first Elizabeth’s reign,
those English
southwest counties,

and later more yet arrived
hungry and afraid
from the western irish ports, old Waterford,
fleeing famine

into the dream-time of the new found land's
fiddlers and swilers:
their plankerdown "Times"
the only time they could legally dream;

into the present
the kitchen refrains of the women:
who say "we either laugh or cry, my son,
we either laugh or cry".

and did I forget to say
I had a fierce grandma
who solemnly told us:
“I’d rather be home on a meal a day
than live high in godless Canada”?

- - - - - -

*A “swiler” is the old Newfoundlander’s term for a seal hunter who goes out to the ice. 

Until the mid 20th century the Newfoundland fishers worked for Merchants who operated on a solely company-store basis.

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