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my grandfather spoke no english
he could but he would not
and the only french i understood
were the few words i was taught
by my grandfather when he explained
about us and them
and how you must never trust
the americans

see my grandfather came from
ville platte
north of lafayette
his family were all share croppers
a fact he would not forget
as if 200 years of history
didn't count for a damn thing
america was his country
but he was not an american

my grandfather had eight children
and my dad he was one
and all were sent to catholic school
and taught English by the nuns
who'd beat you with a cane
if you spoke a word of French
that's how my dad and all his brothers
became Americans

of my dad i've not much to say
he's a hard man and a bigot
when his truck broke down the other day
he said "boy, we'll have to nigger rig it"
but my grandfather worked with creoles
cutting sugar cain
out in the fields reaping gold
for Americans

he took me to a funeral once
of a French speaking african
i saw a coffin on the kitchen table
and a piano accordion
and my grandfather he explained
about us and them
how there are them you can trust
they are like us
they are not American

i left town as soon as i could as fast as i was able
went to school at l.s.u. took a job bussing tables
met a girl from oregon followed her to eugene
when she was gone i moved on
to check out the seattle scene

one job followed another
i travelled fourteen states
and i found lovers
but never one who stayed
i think i am no wiser now
than i was back when
my grandfather gave me his advice
never trust Americans

©2000 Mike West

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