Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Poems of Work

Last week I shared a few poems from Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's new book Steady Hands: Poems About Work. In that post I challenged each commenter to name a profession that would be interesting to write a poem about. Suggestions included trapeze artist, ice cream taster, zookeeper, rodeo clown, astronaut, children's book writer, shoe maker, etc.

These ideas are just too good to pass by. I can already imagine what some of these poems might look/sound like. I would love to write about a trapeze artist, but can't seem to get Alice Schertle's "A Silver Trapeze" out of my head! So, inspired both by Tracie's book and J. Patrick Lewis' new book The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse, let's write some poems about work or professions.

Here is a poem from Pat's book for a little inspiration.
Belly Dancer

Wiggle those hips,
Swivel that torso,
Shake that belly--
Then do it more so!

©J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.
Have fun with this one. I can't wait to read the results!


  1. Bird Recordist
    What a strange bird the recordist is,
    Up at dawn, check.
    Listens to the chorus. Check.
    Takes out his parabolic mike.
    Wait a minute.
    He presses record.
    Captures song.
    Brings it home.
    And then bird song fills the room:
    The jubilant invitations to a nest;
    Harsh challenges to a rival;
    Sweet, soaring seductions;
    Bold warnings to a fox or raptor or passing owl;
    Praise of succulent berries;
    And the querulous rantings of the unwanted male.
    The recordist never opens his own mouth,
    But his ears--oh his ears--are ready, content full,
    A blevit of sound.
    Tomorrow he will find another glen.

  2. Didn't quite format right. After the line "And then birdsong fills the room" the next six lines should be indented.

    Oh well.


  3. Thinking of both my grandfathers, who had such beautiful hand tools at their work benches. They really cared for them well, cleaning and oiling everything until it just glowed. My mom's dad had an old sandstone grinder - a wheel - that he let me turn the handle on (it was almost as big as I was) while he sharpened the tools that needed a sharp edge.


    Claw hammer, screw driver
    tape measure, locking pliers

    ladder and cat’s paw
    framing square, hand saw

    chisel and spirit level
    wood drill, pencil

    draw knife, spoke shave
    wood rasp, hand plane

    chalk line, miter box—
    sharp and fine, all mine

  4. I wrote this years ago but it fits (no pun intended):


    She convinces that the blade
    can be persuaded to behave
    and find its way inside her.
    The lady sword swallower
    knows the trick to let it slip
    along her throat, apparently without choking;
    her hands rise above her head, while wide
    she spreads her fingers as if approachinglight will blind her. Simply note the violation
    and what follows: the neat compartments submit to art, wherein the take makes show of letting go.
    It looks just like a swallow.
    How can we know?
    One might even question if,
    in fact, she's hollow.
    A practiced conductor won't reveal the trick;
    the magic is no magic but repeating it.