Old roofers grunt like bad sex
when they heft a bucket of hot tar
contractors, union guys with cards,
day laborers all do it over ladders
wheelbarrows, hoes, hauling weights
in the sun, climbing, digging, pulling.
They moan, breath forced out
heaving over their work as a body
beneath them, the effort to rise
and fall, like in a trench in the hot
desert, or on a muddy road pushing
boulders aside, slow heavy labor.
The sweat starts even in winter,
jackets laid aside men work hard
focused brows pinched, red cheeks
they eye their various tools as they
pump their arms up, down, the shovel
grip wet they gasp again, pick slips out
of their hands. Now they can stop
straighten their backs, the hole dug
pipe fitted and soldered they smile
breathless, proud of their work after all.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Emily Strauss would
be pleased to hear them.