Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Poetry Stretch - For Those Who Labor

After mass yesterday I found myself contemplating these words from the prayers of the faithful.

May all who labor or seek to labor find
mutual respect,
just conditions,
fair pay, and
a safe environment to work.

While I've been rather whiny about going so long with no power (it went on last night after 8 days), I had it easy in many respects. I had the luxury of hot showers and a working stovetop thanks to the power of natural gas. Others were not so lucky. While I waited for power to return, hard working men and women from Virginia and other states worked around the clock to get things fixed. I'm grateful to them. I know it was not an easy job.

For these folks, and all others who labor, let's write for them. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


    By Steven Withrow

    Between commutes, night workers have
    Houdini’d a two-lane overpass,
    Leaving steel-studded supports

    Bookending the old post road:
    Totems, tomes, magician’s lore,
    A sleight of civil engineering

    Conjured wholly out of place,
    Span of vanished expectation,
    As though traveling a novel

    And slamming, mid-sentence, into
    Ellipsis ... blank caesura
    Of a chapter break ... cliffhang-

    Ing, bridge-defying business,
    No job for the faint (the feint?)
    Of heart—this morning, are those

    Hard-hatted daysleepers dreaming
    Of dawn’s interpolation
    In night’s rhythm of wreck and rest,

    Or are they too done in by toil
    To presto forth illusions
    On the disappearing scrim of sleep?

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  2. night workers have

    The construction workers near here perform sleights of hand that amaze me sometimes. You've done a good job capturing it!

  3. Monday Thoughts

    hard at work
    work of art
    worker bee
    workers rights
    miracle worker

    labor law
    woman in labor
    labor unions
    secretary of labor
    labor supply
    love's labor lost
    manual labor
    labor movement
    labor day

    --Kate Coombs 2011, all rights reserved

  4. Class Work

    This is labor of the lowest, bareknuckle kind:

    the bending and stretching
    of the farmer or fruit picker
    as we tie the same shoes over and over, hang
    glittering fish from the ceiling

    the hefting and heaving
    of the dock worker or trucker
    as we haul in rolled-up rugs, drag
    small but solid sinks and stoves into better spots

    the sorting and stacking, shuffling and piling
    of the secretary or stock clerk
    as we stuff folders with important forms, fill
    labeled shelves with puzzles and pebbles and paper

    And all the while the labor of split-second decision:
    just one, a few or all?
    address or ignore?
    now or later?
    sharp voice or soft?—

    All the while a bear-down, breathing kind of labor
    pushing each child further into
    the light of the world, eyes wide open,
    fingers unfurling to grasp tools for
    the labor of becoming

    Heidi Mordhorst 2011
    all rights reserves