Andrew Marzoni

The Orange Bears

Added on by Andrew Marzoni.

The orange bears with soft friendly eyes

Who played with me when I was ten,

Christ, before I left home they’d had

Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs

Seared by hog slag, their soft trusting

Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped

Out, and I went down through the woods

To the smelly crick with Whitman

In the Haldeman-Julius edition,

And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail

Into the cover—What did he know about

Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal

And the National Guard coming over

From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates

With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers?

I remember you could put daisies

On the windowsill at night and in

The morning they’d be so covered with soot

You couldn’t tell what they were anymore.

A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!

—Kenneth Pachen (1949)