Saturday, 14 April 2018 18:08

More important than Elvis's comb

Written by
in Poetry
More important than Elvis's comb

Fred Voss sent in the following poem after reading the new collection by Martin Hayes, The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, published by Culture Matters and available here.

More important than Elvis's comb

by Fred Voss

What is more important
than a cheap blue linoleum kitchen table in a little apartment
a spoon a bowl of hot clam chowder on that table a chair
with a back so a young man can sit
and eat the chowder
as he puts all the courage he has into trying to be a man who works
at a blast furnace
what is more important than the stink of the steel as he heats it red-hot
in roaring white-hot blast furnace flame
his going on
like the earth turning the whale singing the sun shining
each knuckle
in the young man’s hands each drop of sweat
that slithers
down his back
each breath he takes each hope he hangs onto each black shoelace
of each boot around his feet as he sparks on a cutting torch at 1 am
while everyone else sleeps
he is the one
who built the roads nailed the roofs carried the buckets of cement
drove the red-hot rivets into bridges steered buses through crowded cities walked
the naked steel skyscraper I-beams 1,000 feet above the street dove
beneath the waves stroking to save the drowning man broke
through the smoking door to rush into the burning building and save
the babe
are the stars more important the heroes
of sagas the statues of Lincoln the comb
of Elvis the Nikes
of Michael Jordan the eyelashes of Madonna the cross of Christ the bank vault
of a billionaire the sonatas
of Beethoven more important
than the time card
the young man drops into the time clock KA-CHUNK
as the eye
of the old man on the surface grinder twinkles winking
at the young man saying, “Yes, you can do it”
and the young man steps up
to a red-hot bar of steel and sparks on his cutting torch
to carve out a tooth for the bucket of a bulldozer
that will move


Read 1471 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:02
Fred Voss

Fred Voss, a machinist for 32 years, has had three collections of poetry published by the UK’s Bloodaxe Books. His latest booklet is The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, published by Culture Matters.