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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day!

In the spirit of this light-hearted holiday, here is Contributor Note by Michael Martone from Hayden's Ferry Review, Issue #31:

Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and grew up there, leaving, at seventeen, to work as a roustabout in the last traveling circus to winter in the state. He has held many jobs since then, including night auditor in a resort hotel, stenographer for the National Labor Relations Board, and clerk for a regional bookstore chain run by the associates of the Gambino crime family. For the last twenty years, Martone has been digging ditches. As a ditch digger, he has helped lay agricultural tiling, both the original fired-clay tile and the flexible pvc tubing, in the farm fields of northern Indiana, Ohio, and southern Michigan. He worked on the national project that buried thousands of miles of fiber optic cable along active and abandoned right-of-ways of North American railroads. He has often contracted to do the initial excavations at archeological digs throughout the Midwest’s extensive network of mounds, built by archaic pre-Columbian civilizations, where he would roughly remove the initial unremarkable strata for the scholars who followed at the site with hand trowels and dental instruments. Often when digging ditches, Martone would employ a poacher’s spade made in the United Kingdom by the Bulldog Company and given to him by the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, who ordered it from the Smith & Hawking catalogue and gave it to Martone as a going away present when Martone left Boston where he had been digging clams. It’s ash, “Y”-shaped handle still retains a remnant of the ribbon that decorated the gift. Martone has operated a backhoe, constructing drainage ditches, and he has used a DitchWitch when digging a trench for buried electrical conduit in housing developments around Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been certified to run a drag line as well as licensed to maintain boilers in obsolete steam shovels. He is proficient at foundation work, having been employed for four years in the area of poured form and precast concrete retaining walls and building footings. Briefly, he worked as a sand hog, tunneling a new PATH tube between Manhattan and New Jersey. Martone has mined coal and gypsum in Kentucky and repaired the sewers of Paris and Vienna. Honorably discharged from the SeeBees, he once helped fortify, through the entrenchment and the construction of sand berms and tank traps, the Saudi Arabian city of Qarr during the Gulf War. He has buried culvert in Nova Scotia and created leech fields and septic tanks in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. Having installed irrigations systems on the Trend Jones designed golf courses of Alabama, Martone recently took a position as a grave digger at the Roman Catholic cemetery in his home town in order to be closer to his family. Using the newly purchased Komatsu excavator, he dug the grave for his mother who died unexpectedly in her sleep. He observed the funeral from the cab of the machine, waiting until the mourners had departed to remove the Astroturf blanket covering the spoil and then back-filling the opening and replacing the squares of real turf on the dirt. Since that time, on his days off, Martone digs, with the poacher’s spade given to him by the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, his own grave, or, at least, attempts to dig his own grave as all of these efforts, so far, have been filled back in, as the resulting holes, to his professional eye, were never quite right.


April Fools! This piece is a joke and does not reflect a biographical account of the author at all. He is poking fun and having a laugh at the contributor's notes that are usually included in the back of literary journals. Michael Martone has written a variety of these Contributor Notes, which have been published in several journals. Did we trick you? *grin*

If you're celebrating, we hope you're having fun. And remember, pranks should be fun, not painful!

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