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Brother John Jack Joe
BROTHER JOHN JACK JOE
by Benedict Pallone (mcmlxvi)
John Jack Joe was a power man
He worked for the Hydro at Stave Falls Dam
He checked generators and polished rails
He washed up the floors and he cleaned out the pails
He took the weather readings and he oiled up the sump
He blew out compressors and fixed up the pump.
He replaced fuses whenever one did blow
And he went for the mail through rain, sleet and snow.
But John is no more with us He'll never work on four
He'll polish no more brass nor wax another floor
He won't check a unit nor fill oil cups on five
For John Jack Joe our Hydro man is no longer alive
The events and how they happened is sad, simple and true
I'll do my best to relate it as well I can to you.
I remember the day it was glorious the dew upon the grass
The sun peeked through mists of fog the tailrace like glass.
The birds started chirping that the air was damp and cool
Webs of glistening silk hung outside the company school
And over by the bunkhouse the smoke curled from the stack
John Jack Joe was the only one who lived in the nine man shack
John Joe had his coffee early that Monday morn
After which he stood bolt upright and said (censoring the scorn)
"I've an urge to polish a little brass." Something he hated to do.
And with these words said he walked outside and smiled though a little blue.
The cool damp air refreshed him as he stepped down each porch stair
There was purpose in every stride he took in every breath of air.
He crossed the grass denting the dew with every step he made
Finding the road he then turned left to honor his crusade.
By now the tainter race did rush splashing white with foam
He crossed the bridge to the power house and the Frank Hopkins home.
Past the weather station and its picket fence off white
The Power House before him the dam behind in sight.
The fog by now was lifting yet will-oh-wisps stood near
Then one by one they vanished as the morning air did clear.
By now the roar was deafening as the power house door was breached
His eyes took on a kind of glaze his face looked kind of bleached.
John was quite a joker so I paid him no heed
The night shift readied to go home giving us the log to read.
John went to the cupboard, took Brasso and a cloth
Then his eyes started to twinkle his mouth began to froth.
A strangled smile crossed his lips when the cloth stroked the brass
We looked at John and started to laugh he was such a silly ass.
His hands moved fast and furious he giggled loud with glee
His giggle turned to laughter and we followed hysterically.
We watched him polish above the stairs rail after rail
His face flushed a little red then turned again to pale
Yet still he carried on along down until he'd done the stair,
Until he was on the lower floor in the generator's lair.
Then he shone the brass on five and four and then on number three
And emitted a scream of terror then laughed again with glee
He polished up the gauges, the governor and rail
He polished up the plaques, the snifter valve and pail
His eyes were sparkling fury and the gleam turned into cries
Laugh's of devil's madness held our silent awed replies.
Transformers shone with a sparkle they never shared before
And the same applied with every knob of brass on every door.
And still the rags soaked up the dirt as the Brasso spilled forth
He'd polished up the East side the West side and the North
He flashed the can of Brasso at the accumulator tank
And soaked the rag with liquid shine that ammoniated stank
John's eyes again twinkled his face was a grinning sea
Once again he polished accumulator three.
But a grimy stain upon his work stood out so bold and true
Those damn hot leads that feed the gens on Exciter No. 2.
He shone those leads while static bolts rocked him to and fro
Yet the smile remained upon his lips his heart refused to go.
Whilst liquid foamy white flowed out his mouth in creamy froth
He sloshed more Brasso into his hands which held the flimsy cloth
Again he approached the dirty marks on those hot damned bold leads
Where DC drained to one and two and there three also feeds.
The sparkling floor and brass on each generator shone
It was then we knew that John's poor mind had really gone and gone.
He ran from us, then stared straight up there was nothing we could do
He'd got the call from that Power Man way up there in the blue.
His Brasso was down but not all gone there was still a touch remaining
We tore on down to catch poor John and thought that we were gaining
When his eyes caught hold of that copper bus... Sixty thousand stuff
He soaked the last of the Brasso in knowing it was enough.
We took great steps but suddenly stopped he was near the copper rail
We stood there shrieking gasping crying but it was to no avail
He screamed a bold defiance to his shocking enterprise
And when his cloth stroked the bus shocks streamed from his eyes
His emancipation came so fast and free
He burnt like a bacon crisp yet smiled at the AC
His actions were revolting as power took its course
He had his biggest charge in life and felt no remorse
This quick hot cremation left just a bit of dust
A spot of black upon the ground and an ending I felt unjust
We said some words to good ole John and prayed quite solemnly
In the hope there's brass to polish in the place where he may be.
Be it furnace, harp or halo he's an enemy of grime
With an antistatic cloth Lord some Brasso and some time.