Poem #24



Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
from “Digging”, by Seamus Heaney

Between a metallic cutter and a wooden pallet
the squint eyes skim; cursor through plastic,
as an editor of pages, for any defect
in the customer’s material.
In her bed, our weekends end in the sound of a pout.
I work on Sundays when we could go out.
This sacrifice for us takes power.
In a suburb, coming up twenty-nine years younger,
when I was three, it was the same in our family;
father worked in the jailhouse,
father kissed mom after dinner,
father arrived home late.
For his birthday, in October, I would bring together
pictures of the deputies I found
hidden underneath and around
the bills he had to pay.
This is one way
boys learn to be men–working.
My old man worked like his old man
drove to or from work no matter
how well or bad he felt that day,
even if he made something of nothing
in a factory it was for toys so I could play,
for food, and for a place to sleep each night away.
An Irish poet writes about escaping the family legacy
for penning poetry.
Yet every woman or man, an apple or an orange that breaks from a twig,
is not a president nor a doctor.
Someone must do the hard labor.
Someone must be the potato planter.
Someone is slogging a mop bucket of dirty water
from shoe filled florescent tiles
to a ditch behind a child’s school.
Oh, how lovely ye sundry labors we are working?
Between a metallic cutter and a wooden pallet
the plastic turns.
I’ll work with it.


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