We were warned.
Don’t wear green.
Don’t wear orange.
Don’t talk politics.
One chilly night, in the shadows of
martyrdom’s murals and the loyalist pub
where the Catholic girl’s throat was gashed
for drinking outside her faith,
One chilly night,
still pondering the clanking
steel gates that swing shut every night,
historic hatreds and
we broke our mandate.
Our cabbie understood.
I was once a cook in a restaurant, he said.
One day, a co-worker asked: Are you Catholic or Protestant?
I told him my parents came to Ireland from Pakistan 60 years ago.
They were Muslims, but I’m not religious.
A while later,
My co-worker came toward me.
He looked puzzled.
You told me your parents are Muslims, he said.
But are they Protestant or Catholic Muslims?
Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation