Poetic Tribute to the Silver People – Part 3


West Indian workers arriving in Panama aboard the “Cristobal.” Image is property of the ACP.

Before we bid farewell to the month of August during this year of remembrance, we wanted to post the last two poems written by our contributing poet, Mr. Louis Emanuel.  They sum up vividly how many of us felt years ago and even today.  As he put it in his message to us, “Many of us can relate to this…”


We left our homes, for a better life
Ventured northward, to quell our plight
Our future then, not so gloriously bright
Many gave up, packed and took flight.

Escaping northward, to fulfill our dreams
On planes, or ships, also by other means
Awakening wearily, to places never been.
Such foreign land, in visions merely seen.

The U.S. glittered, as the promised land
Prime of our youth, we veered off to Sam
Skilled workers, laborers, in great demand
Many jobs, Yankee dollars, earn all you can.

Miami, Chicago, New York, Boston, L.A.
We came to dwell, work hard and play
Large, small cities, as our homes to stay
Hopes of returning, to our land someday.

Many has retired, some flew home to roost
Back to Panama City, returning to one’s roots.
Concrete jungles, gridlock, then what’s the use
Another big city, vibrant, modern and footloose.

Relating our tale, without fame neither glory
No regrets, the coop was flown, albeit in a hurry
To turn back the clock, or repeat this true story
We will do it again, without rue, less to worry.


And they came by sea, to a land below.
Caribbean men, to a place unknown.
To span the isthmus, with an iron road
Close to two oceans, by land as shown.

To Panama men came, labored with pride
From dusk to dawn, without uttering a sigh
A railroad built, the tracks laid side by side
To the glory of many, it was a pride to ride.

They returned once more, five decades past
And joined two oceans, for great ships to pass
Over ages and time, will it last they asked
A wonder of this world, such ado did not last.

A laborer aghast in awe, and great shock
Saw friends fall in, while building the locks
Their bones preserved, to our memory as a lot
Entombed in concrete to be forever their plot.

Dynamite, death, mudslides, a grateful prayer
Did not falter these men, such as a great player.
Continued to labor, succumb? no way not ever.
A canal built, will those memories last forever?

Was ever a monument, plaque or a simple idle talk
An old structure, street name, or a tiny unkempt park.
About our heroes the diggers, whom left their mark
No! their memories have ebbed away, lost in the dark.

L. Emanuel

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