The edges of another's work
were all the space
she had for her story.
With grease and lamp black,
a fine point, she set down
her worth  in small letters
that she might abide.
Perhaps you will glimpse her.

:: Isabel Zuber, in The American Voice #29 (1992)



The hose man is a shy one,
hands dug into pockets
and hat making shadows
on his all-weather radial tire face.
His Lincoln is a golfcart with a pick-up bed
tack-welded over the engine.
He wants to make things green.

Some mornings he starts
a half hour before the shift,
hose upon hose, mist upon mist.
As the sun climbs tiny rainbows appear.
He is smiling. On some days he canticles.
Every now and then he looks at the sky.
It seems dry up there.

:: Barrett Warner, in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review #6 (1995)


Friday Lunchbreak

At noon, still wearing their white
plastic helmets and long smocks,
they leave the frozen slabs
of calf hanging from aluminum
hooks on the loading docks
and stride down the street
past my window, headed
for the bank on the corner.
I remember the gray calf we found
last spring in Virginia, hidden
by its mother in a gully;
at six days it scampered
and wobbled.
                     We watched
it grow heavy and slow, until
half a year later, fouled
with its own shit and dull of eye,
it stood with the other cattle,
hock-deep in muck by the barn.

Then it was gone, perhaps north
to this gallows place, where the men
tromp back, grinning, some with bottles
in brown paper sacks, these men
in spattered white smocks
who are as thick and wide
as the sides of beef they hug
and wrestle, angels of meat.

:: Gregory Orr, The Red House



My father lets down
The little drawbridge of his pickup truck,
A span of plywood planks on the back gate
Held level by hook and chain,
And dumps from the damp burlap
A load of locked doors
We've bough to break and enter,
Taking our spade-sharped knives
To the sharp and silted ridges of the oyster shells.

Almost safe inside the heavy canvas gloves,
Mule-brand, the fingers chewed through
By snags of ragged metal his acetylene
Cut back from the junked bodies of cars,
We look for leeways in the trap,
Any edge the blade can pry and widen,
Leverage to spring the hinge. I set aside
The hard ones for my father's savvy hands.
From the lusters of the bottom lid,
We split the raw attachments
And pour it all in a plastic pail--
Brine and gill plates and mantle--
My mother's turn now to turn
This plump meat seasoned by the sea
Into soups and stews and poboy loaves
(Dredged in cornmeal, drowned in deep fat).

It's one more long Sunday when dinner waits
For my brother to drive down, late,
Through the pinesap airs of Hammond,
And for my sister to bring herself, late,
Across the white bridges, twin humps
On the billowed back of Lake Pontchartrain.

And so my father and I stand opening
The closed chambers, the cold valves,
And from these cups of calcium
Drink to each other a liquid
Of salt and grit, the oysters
Easing down like lumps in the throat.

:: Elton Glaser, in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review #2 (1993)