Thursday, 04 February 2016 08:13

February Poems 2016

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1.

Asphalt Driveway Co.

 

I was lucky years ago to work on

The crews that put in asphalt driveways in

The summer and we came in tall trucks with

A tractor a roller and a paver

 

And we were young men exercising our strength

And honing our skills and learning what was

Necessary — like standing on a load

Of asphalt while the soles of our boots burned

 

And shoveling from the truck down into

A wheelbarrow because that is the

Only way to get the asphalt to an

Odd place — there was no use in wearing

 

Gloves because they would be worn out very

Fast so our hands developed calluses.

 

I used a maul

a shovel

and a pickax

and grew a

capacious heart.

 

2.

Willie’s appearance might not impress you

Because he was too thin and tanned almost

Black and the sun is not kind to exposed

Skin — he was silent unpredictable

 

And volatile — but as the chief on an

Asphalt driveway crew he was a master

Craftsman working from his tractor seat at

Timing the arrivals of the trucks and

 

The moving of the grunts and at tearing

Out the old driveway and sculpting the ground

With an eye for the drainage of water

And he was good at raking stones into

 

Place and once the asphalt was flowing he  

Knew how to lay an impeccable mat.

 

Willie was wicked

in his rages over

carelessness or

stupidity or

for no reason.

 

3.

Grunts

 

Davey folded the six plastic rings that

Connected a six-pack of pop into

A single ring and with his hands grasping

Behind his neck he tore it apart and

 

Joey franticly shoveled the stones

In the correct general direction

And Joey drove hastily weaving

Around the traffic with a hot load of

 

Asphalt and there came a day I had to

Prove myself so I swung a pickax like

John Henry and the next day they let a

Surplus guy go and kept me and with my

 

Boot I balanced on an empty pop can

And with my fingers tapping crushed the can.

 

The crew chief mastered

all the necessary skills

and he sits in the

tractor seat and he

determines everything.

 

4.

A tamper is a steel pole with a square

Ending that is used to put a raised edge

Alongside an asphalt driveway and I

I had a good eye for tamping a straight

 

Line and the chiefs selected me because

My tamping was a fine finishing touch

And I was happy because I could keep

Working and I had a skill setting me

 

Apart and I enjoyed riding to jobs

In the back of a tall dump truck wearing

A bandana but not a shirt feeling

Like a pirate and encountering the

 

Curious expressions of passersby

Because I was a member of the crew.

 

It is easy to

encourage a young man

and entice him to

work like a raging demon —

give him some belonging.

 

5.

A roller uses two cylinder wheels

That we filled with water and it’s about

Twice as big as a golf cart and I went

Forward by pushing a lever forward

 

And backward the same way and one day I

Was rolling pressing a just laid driveway

Going right to the edge of a ten foot

Drop enjoying an easy interlude

 

Between hard labor and I pulled back on

The lever but the roller kept on so

I jumped and down it went boom boom and like

A cat I landed with my heart going

 

Boom boom and I might have been dozing a

Little beforehand but then I woke up.

 

Synchronicity —

a mechanical failure

a ten foot drop and

vigorous dexterity

produced a happy ending.

 

6.

It was a joke we enjoyed — four of the

State government road crew were leaning on

Their shovels as one was shoveling — though

There might have been a little envy too

 

Because we were like skinny feral cats —

And from the moment we arrived at the

Yard there was ceaseless motion before dawn

And through the heat of summer days until

 

Returning past the evening twilight and

The only occasional rest was if

There was room for me in the cab to doze

On the way to the next job otherwise

 

I’d stand in the dumpster part of the truck

With my arms over the sides holding on.

 

Such a test of pride —

to lift a wheelbarrow

and hurl it up and

over the side into the

dump truck about ten feet high.

Read 2332 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 February 2018 14:02
Barry MacDonald

Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.

www.stcroixreview.com
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