if she could use
her hands to fasten
a button twist a knob
scribble a letter
to tell me she dreams
about tailpipes
thirteen parts assembled
again and over
like a broken dance
of two palms
stroking rubbery backs
fingers bowing
to partners swollen
with gnarled collapse
snapping delicate cylinders
joints in place
for the socket and bend of it
as she dismantles her own
one occupation at a time
even before they tell her
with owing fists
to speed the quota
because flesh is thick
in a town that has no fire
just cold furnaces
and breadsinners
with lottery eyes or
bingo on their breath
so where can she go
if the work of her hands
is meant for reaching
the grasp of all things falling

:: Paola Corso, Death by Renaissance (Bottom Dog Press, 2004)


How Things Work

Today it's going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother's violin.
We're completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won't let go
Of a balled sock until there's chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
are passed on help others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy a goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip, a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.

:: Gary Soto, Black Hair (Pittsburgh, 1985)



The workmen over and above the fence

fit bricks, lift mortar, slap it accurately
in place. Guilty by sitting idle, I
imagine they envy my luxury
of doing nothing until I remember
the days I had my hands full of shovel,
the dragline plowing the ditch of a sewer
through a future subdivision and how
I pitied those who walked by our work
with no apparent occupation,
denied the pleasure of making something,
piece by piece—even if it would soon
be buried—they would depend upon.

:: Robert King, in Rattle 29, summer 2008


The Pig Roast

The afternoon wound down. The pool was calm.
Some childrem played around the emptied trough.
The small, low town was far enough away
behind the trees to look as though it were
a thread of road, some boxes, a toy steeple
propped upon a branch. The parents bustled in
to cocktails when the lightning bugs began.
The children had the country on their shoes.
Outside, they watched the greasy farmhand set
a tractor's broken axle in the half-light.
They trailed him with a hundred aimless questions
until an aunt corralled them in the house.
A wobbly mother volunteered to fight
the crusted shoes and knotted laces off.
Outside, the farmhand closed his day. He crouched
beside the rifle hanging from the fence
and scratched the pig's broad head, then slowly rose
as though he'd left a teacup balanced there.
After the shot, the farmhand turned to spit,
and, with a rag, wiped from his dirty hands
what must have been the day, being done with it,
and turned then to the night, and night's demands.

:: Joshua Mehigan, The Optimist (Ohio University Press, 2004)