Mike Fink


Old timers tell you Mike Fink
was a legend like John Henry
or Paul Bunyan.

he was my great-great-great grandfather
real as you or me

worked up and down this canal and past it
out onto the Missouri,  the Big Muddy
poling flatboats of grain, whiskey, passengers

Mike Fink wore a red feather in his hat
to show he’d fight any man big or small
himself a giant of a man

Fists like Virginia hams
arms like tree limbs
face all creased with scars

He’d bite off an ear
swallow it whole
beat a man’s insides to black pudding.


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