HomeSouthern VoiceGrandpa's Ditties

Grandpa's Ditties

by Kevin Heaton

Grandpa was born in 1896, and could play
just about anything with strings attached.
What pulled most at his heart, was an old fiddle
that he kept on top of a china cabinet
in the corner near his rocking chair; where
he fell asleep every night listening to Georgia
Bulldog games on a Philco dial radio

He worked part-time for the highway department
setting out kerosene warning flares that looked
like bowling balls without holes.

During the 20’s, and throughout Depression Era
days, he set great store in playing that fiddle
at barn raisings, and harvest dances; where neighbors
could find brief, and welcome respite from hardship,
in simple food and fellowship. Civil War ditties
frequented the menu; passed down to him
by the same fingers that first plucked his fiddle.

When his lame shoulder wasn’t throbbing,
and I asked him just right; he’d take her down
off the china cabinet, rosin up the bow, and with
a work boot conducting: take us down dusty,
forgotten pikes lined with blue, and gray soldiers;
singing, marking cadence on the road to awakening:

Ride a Scotch horse
to Danbury cross,
see an old woman
upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers,
and bells on her toes—
she shall have music
wherever she goes, and goes…..

Kevin Heaton lives and writes in South Carolina. His latest chapbook, “Measured Days,” was recently released from Heavy Hands Ink Press, and his work has appeared in Foliate Oak, Elimae, Hanging Moss Journal, Pirene’s Fountain and many others. He is listed as a notable poet at To read more of his work, click here.

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