"Dynamite," a Poem by Ron Vander Ark

In Michigan in winter time
Beneath the fields of snow
It is a strange and magic time
When rocks begin to grow

Now in the fall at harvest time
The fields are smooth and clear
But in the spring it never fails
A million rocks appear

When I grew up in Michigan
I called a farm my home
And part of every rite of spring
Included picking stones

One Saturday my father yelled
Get up you sleepy heads
You'll never do a lick of work
Just lying in your beds

He said come on get out of bed
And grab your shoes and socks
Your grandpa's here to help you boys
To help with picking rocks

We liked to work with Grandpa Shooks
For he was lots of fun
He always told us funny tales
About when he was young

We dressed and hurried out the door
Not bothering with a coat
And we found Gramps out by the barn
Hitching horses to the boat

The stone boat was a flat device
That the horses dragged behind
And on this boat we loaded
Every stone that we could find

As I was busy picking rocks
My brother gave a shout
He found a rock too big to move
We'd have to dig it out

So grandpa dug around the rock
And tied it with a chain
He hitched the horses to the rock
But it was all in vain

The rock was larger than we thought
The soil held it fast
Then grandpa said it's just too big
I'm afraid we'll have to blast

He drove the horses to the barn
And got the dynamite
He said he thought that seven sticks
Should move that rock all right

He loaded all the blasting stuff
Into his Chevrolet
He said we need the car nearby
To help us get away

While Gramps was setting up the blast
He told a little story
About the time a fishing trip
Turned out a little gory

He said the ladies at the church
Had planned a fish fry meal
So he and all his brothers
Set forth with rod and reel.

For they had volunteered to catch
Enough for everyone
But after fishing all day long
The fish had clearly won

Then Grandpa's brother wandered off
Without a parting word
And he returned with dynamite
And caps and primer cord

He stuck a cap with fuse attached
Into the dynamite
And then he added several sticks
He had to do it right

Then grandpa said they talked about
The group they had to feed
They decided that a dozen sticks
Would produce the blast they'd need

He said they crouched behind the dam
To shield them from the blast
His brother lit the six inch fuse
And made a mighty cast

The bundled sticks soared through the air
And landed in the pond
He said the blast reminded him
Of an atomic bomb

He said that for a long long time
The air was full of rain
They didn't dare to raise their heads
To see what they had slain

The finally looked at their results
And much to their chagrin
They saw that every rock and tree
Was covered with guts and fins

The largest piece of fish they found
Was smaller than a bite
They decided that a few sticks less
Might have been just right

He said the supper turned out fine
And the ladies were elated
And they were glad to have the hens
That Grandpa's dad donated

So Grandpa got the charges set
And said we'd better run
My brother and I ran to the barn
To watch the blasted fun

Now Gramps had parked his car nearby
To aid his hasty flight
But he forgot to leave the motor on
While he lit the dynamite

He lit the fuse then noticed that
The car was deathly still
He saw the car and saw the fuse
It gave his heart a chill

He tried to get the fuse to stop
By blowing on the flame
But he only made it speed along
And that was not his aim

He jumped into the silent car
And punched the starter pedal
The motor ground a pound or two
While he beat on the metal

He watched the fuse burn to the end
And knew his end was near
Then he remembered to turn the key
And dropped it into gear

The engine caught he popped the clutch
He punched it to the floor
He barely moved a dozen feet
When he heard the dreadful roar

The blast was like a might boot
That kicked him in the rear
We saw Gramp's face as he went by
And it was full of fear

The car went flying past the barn
A hundred miles per hour
It finally stopped and came to rest
Against the windmill tower

Then grandpa said that's quite a ride
I've never gone so fast
And we agreed that Grandpa Shooks
Was really quite a blast.

The above poem was written and coyrighted by Ron Vander Ark, grandson of John Shooks.