Why I Don’t Work Construction
“You’re a big guy. You should be working construction.”
– a woman in line at Kmart
Every time I swung a sledgehammer,
shattered the faces of bricks,
the poems would stammer
like aces from my sleeves, failed tricks.
I’d bend down, pick up debris,
expose a crack, pants too low, a cliché
run down by sitcoms. Two or three
times between tasks, I’d recite Millay.
My résumé lacks the body strength and grace
required for lifting but includes a photo
of me as the Cowardly Lion, my Halloween face
pampered in yellow and blush, lips pursing for a solo.
I’d nod my head at the big talk during break.
Our poems recited through groans, a half hour
of recovering, carefully soothing each ache
with slow hands. Each worker, a weathered flower.
Editorial note: Originally published in Iron Horse Literary Review’s Alumni Issue (11.3), 2009.