Sunday, 25 April 2021 08:36

May Day 2021: Star-Spangled Purple Bandana General

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May Day 2021: Star-Spangled Purple Bandana General

Star-spangled Purple Bandana General

by Fred Voss

When I first stepped up to a machine after getting
my union card
I joined a ring of men and women locking hands in a circle
spanning the globe
an army
with wrenches and hammers and steel-toed shoes and hardhats and tape measures
instead of guns
an army standing so tall no CEO or supervisor
could stare us down
and when I picked up a wrench it was because I really wanted
to pick up a wrench
we were rise
of mountain beat
of eagle wing beauty
of rose inevitable as wave crossing ocean to crash
into rock true
as gravity indispensable
as sunlight
Gus
in his Greek fisherman hat and black leather jacket cranking
the handle of his bedmill and smiling
Marcella
with her star-spangled purple bandana around her forehead
and her wrapped-in-green-surgical-tape fingers scraping against her spinning buffing wheel
our generals
we were swing of miner’s pick
deep in the copper mine in Chile the clipper ship seaman
high in his crow’s nest bearing the frigid blast
of Cape Horn gale-force wind against his face the chef
over his steaming pot of clam chowder in his tall white hat the San Francisco conductor
with his fist on his stick-shift changing screeching gears on his cable car
crawling up the hill hamburger flipper
jackhammer gripper cathedral bell
ringer dynamite lighter railroad
switchman chimney sweeper crawling-under-the-foundation-of-the-house
plumber Brazilian Grand Opera singer
and Paris piano tuner
and I stood at my machine and looked out a tin door as the sun rose
over the San Gabriel mountains
as a jeweller cut a priceless diamond
and a janitor polished a train station bathroom faucet
and felt the warmth of the blood flowing in our locked hands circling the globe
our globe
our home
our brotherhood/sisterhood
lighting up our sky
of dreams.

Above image is a painting donated anonymously to the people of Salford, England in thanks to all of the city's key workers who have worked tirelessly and courageously to keep the city safe throughout the pandemic. It is a beautiful display of working-class solidarity.

Read 251 times Last modified on Friday, 30 April 2021 16:14
Fred Voss

Fred Voss, a machinist for 35 years, has had three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, and two by Culture Matters: The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, and Robots Have No Bones.