Down at the Times: A Poem

on Saturdays, my father
took me to The Times
where he would work
and I would play
all day

my mother always fretted
over what I was to wear
to “that filthy place”

other newsmen
wore dark brown hats
in the office
shot tobacco juice
into brass spittoons
my father
knew better

he’d type upon a high black beast
named Royal
rich with growls and clankings
the tinny little bell
zinging whenever
Daddy’d come to the end
of a line

I’d sit at the next desk
propped up on books
where I could watch
my father’s tongue
move with the carriage
from margin to margin

Daddy would give me
Detroit Times letterhead
so I could draw and color

he’d take me out
to foreign lunch
knowing all the strange dishes
and the waiters’ names

back at The Times
we’d have to find the printers
in their sweet-sharp lair
air itself imprinted
with oily mist that stood for
and the printers knew I knew

these men would vie
to fold for me
one round-square newspaper hat
settle it onto my blonde curls
“to keep the ink off”
-- the ink I loved

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