Where Are the Stockton Sardines?
(for all who worked at the Stockton sardine factory, 1917)
Folks remember. Wives, mothers, grannies even,
used to sit around the woodstove after supper,
telling about the days of sardines,
how they earned almost a decent day's pay
for "crammin' those silver slipperies
into those damned little tins."
Long hours of lopping off heads, then tails, while
laughing at somebody's bawdy joke or juicy gossip.
But oh those stinging cuts, then chopped off
digits, blood pouring down conveyor belts.
"Not complainin', mind ya," said Maude Brown
or Flora Ellis. "Long as sardines were runnin',
there was money for food at the company store."
But all the lotion, salves, and fancy perfumes,
even bath salts, couldn't drown the stench.
Song of Sardines
We spawn silver
We sing dark shadows
Back to the light of day