Friday, February 15, 2013

Poetics: sunrise&smoke

old mile marker

legs dangle off the steel lip, hard concrete
& sunrise

          over the mountains
                over the forest
                       along interstate veins

cars move with intent,
rush the hour, on the way to work
ours done (for now) it's coffee
in styrofoam cups, old men
blow the day's first cigarettes
in roman columns, built not
in a day, but in loading dock life times

i'm sixteen & steel toed, waiting on the next
truck, decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet---HMMMmmm
kHSsssss industrial elevator lands,
opening its gape (breathing sweat
           & cardboard, old wood floor
            chipped) grate bangs

up& we jump to, boss back
with a cluster of colorful metaphors
to heel the horse round the next bend
no end, no finish line in sight (look
busy, you'll be okay---a chisel face senior
laughs)HoNNNkHONnK

TssssssBeepBeepBeep, the 7 am
backIn, blocking the day, the air
anything outside the (cell) warehouse
check the strap, numbers match, PoP
rumBle,RUMble doors up
SHuffleSHuffle

box
box
box
mindLESSbox
box
box
box
i love this
mindLESSbox

its an art.

Over at dVerse Poets, Mary has us writing to Leonard Cohen or about a sense of place. I rather love some Cohen, but I have been wanting to write again about the warehouse I cut my teeth in, way back when. Doors will open at 3 pm.

83 comments:

Brandee Shafer said...

You really are the man of many jobs...

Brandee Shafer said...

(And I would be #1 AND #2!)

Susan said...

I've never been in this situation of 1/2 male bonding and 1/2 senseless loading / unloading -- tho I did work in a factory line twice. I remember the people intensity--talking laughing as our hands worked a 10 miles per minute measuring, ripping and folding fabric ends, stacking neatly, binding, boxing. It felt good, but needed youth and strength. I like the sounds, the airlessness, no end in sight . . .

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
Thanks, for sharing the image Of [an old mile marker] and your very "descriptive" poem as you reminiscent about a [job that has past or a past job.]
deedee :)

kaykuala said...

It's tremendous experience to be where the action is. I've had a stint on the shop floor during vacation time. It was movements all along and one must be fast. One make friends with the rough and tough during breaks! It was fun, good when it lasted! Nicely Brian!

Hank

Claudia said...

when i read this i felt first like in a a painting with the leges dangling off the steel lip (cool image) and then it starts to move with the sunrise and cars, then to smell with the coffee scent and cigarette smoke and then the sound is switched on as well...the HoNNNkHONnK and TssssssBeepBeepBeep..way cool...and in the closure image.. an exhausting routine work turns into a piece of art and you zoom out again, and i stand in front of that picture with the feel i've been there myself...very cool work bri...that's what i wanted to say...smiles

Mark said...

This is why I don't really think I could work someplace like that. I don't enjoy mindless tedium, and I'm not much a fan of male bonding either.

Lorraine said...

sometimes the clearest moments can occur when you do the mondane, I know that once doing the dishes I was filled with this spiritual feeling that I was everything and everyone, if your mind is empty enough what fills it is extraordinary

Lorraine said...

and what's the expression 'If I can't sweep the floor with what I know, than it isn't worth knowing' :)

Valerie said...

I never had a job with action. Perhaps I should make something up about boredom... smiles.

Dave King said...

This moved up a step -- or down a layer, if you will -- with:- i'm sixteen & steel toed, waiting on the next
truck, decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet---


It was the gritty reality that spoke to me.

SueAnn Lommler said...

I worked an assembly line once...break horn sounded shrill and harsh...blat....grated on nerves yet looked forward too! Ha!
Hugging you
SueAnn

sage said...

Those mindless jobs... I remember as a kid working in a grocery story and helping and older guy unload a truck... since we were in the back, he could smoke and constantly had a cigarette in his hands and more than once he burned me as he tossed down boxes.

sage said...

Those mindless jobs... I remember as a kid working in a grocery story and helping and older guy unload a truck... since we were in the back, he could smoke and constantly had a cigarette in his hands and more than once he burned me as he tossed down boxes.

Jenny Woolf said...

Your world is so immediate. I wish I could write poems like you. I think I might give it a try (in private).

Pat Hatt said...

The same over an over again
At ones work den
Getting some exercise
Trying to remain wise
As the same old cries
Come like flies
Quite the work display
Did sawmill crap back in the day

DJan said...

You are a many of many talents. Today's life includes mostly using the mind, but it's nice to know you remember how to be mindless and moving with the flow of work. I feel like I know more about your life than I do about people I see every day! :-)

Daniel said...

One of the many faces of you.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Interesting retrospective on a job long ago. My first job was grocery bag boy at a tiny rural grocery store on the Ohio River :)

Mary said...

Brian, I really liked all the details: "sixteen & steel toed," "old men blow the day's first cigarettes in roman columns," and "decyphering their talk of life i haven't met yet."

I enjoyed the word play in the last stanza. I do think it is an art to do the same exact work day after day after day after day!

Your poem definitely gave me a sense of PLACE!

Maggie May said...

I suppose we all have to do mindless jobs from time to time but to have to do them all the time....... not so good.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Elsie Amata said...

It looks like Mary was touched by the same part of the piece I was,

"their talk of life
i haven't met yet"

It was very reflective of our journey. So innocent of the challenges we are yet to face. Great writing!

manicddaily said...

A very strong sense of that kind of concrete early morning-I can see that cigarette smoke. k.

CiCi said...

I enjoyed reading about your first job, your being exposed to the older workers and their habits and their example to you the young guy. Many times throughout my life I have spent time remembering the women at my first job fondly, thinking of their advice and knowing how many things I still do because of them.

Laurie Kolp said...

But I bet you loved the money then!

Grace said...

Look busy and you'll be okay, how true in work, either outside or in the office ~ Like the box, box, mindless box...we try to make it look like art but its just automated hands and mouth moving silently ~

A gem to read this morning~

Myrna R. said...

Sounds like a hard way to break into the job market. But I suppose it toughened you up. The mindless part stood out for me. Thought about my mother who worked in a tomato packing plant for many, many years. Guess that toughened her up too. Anyway, enjoyed this. I felt like I was there with all those men, ready for some hard work.

Green Speck said...

I love the descriptions you provide !!!

TALON said...

I liked the repeats you tucked in here, Brian. Added to whole atmosphere of your 'cutting teeth' job :)

Gretchen Leary said...

Love this. Maybe I saw this prompt coming? My newest poem has a similar theme ha. :)

ladyfi said...

What experience to gain at only 16. Great piece of writing.

Leovi said...

A beautiful poem full of pictures of the sunrise.

mypoeticpath said...

Thanks for sharing this trip back in time. YOu are full of surprises Brian. :<)

Glenn Buttkus said...

Brother, you are the people's poet, for whether you write of present or past, our empathy is stroked, fanned, caressed, and cuddled--this piece is clean, strong, strident, and full of delicious onomatopeia; puts me in mind of those several jobs I had as a youth, in factories, foundries, warehouses, hardware suppliers, car washs, and machine shops, where the labor piles up on a pallet by your machine, and the song in your head sparks pride in your sweat and youth.

aka_andrea said...

Sounds like a rite of passage, through hard work. This reminds me of many friends I have who are dock workers at the Ports in Long Beach. Old school, hard, honest work. Love it!

Tara Miller said...

Filled with vivid descriptions. I love how you always give us that sense of being there with you....

Mr. Charleston said...

I once spent a couple of days unloading boxcars. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a miner.

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

I always like the way you build dimension and sound into your poems Brian,it gives a depth to your tales and is kind of like your poetic signature. Enjoyed this :)

Sue said...

Lots of color and texture to this one. . .love the sounds, too!

(Maybe after leaving the warehouse you can let Suzanne take you down to her place near the river.)

;)

annell said...

Art come in many forms.

rumoursofrhyme said...

Through your lines I can see, hear and smell your old job, Brian.

Susan Daniels said...

Thanks for bringing us with you, Brian. You really captured this place so well.

Brudberg said...

Sounds a lot like my first jobb at a shipyard during summer. Thank you for sharing,

Poetry and Icecream said...

Mindless work, mind-numbing but it has to be done. I love the descriptions and onomatopoeia throughout this poem :)

hedgewitch said...

The first lines of this are exquisite, brian. The smoke ref as roman pillers is excellent too, conveying the sense of the place's stolidity and permanence,to the point of enduring for centuries. Yes, the noises too--I remember on my first job sitting alone in the dime store basement operating a machine that pinned pricetags--with real pins--on to clothes, and the distinctive PUNCH-pocketa sound it made...a very vivid scene you paint here.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

I love this Brian - think it one of your very best.

Love the imagery, particularly taken with 'rush the hour'- great words.

Well, I just love all of it really!

Anna :o]

Gloria said...

Ah Brian! Love this because you always have something new and how well you paint all the scene!

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Reminds me of my university jobs.

pandamoniumcat said...

First jobs seem to have a romantic notion to them, even if they're mundane...I used to sell motor parts at a mechanic workshop...seems so strange thinking back but I actually enjoyed it at the time. I can imagine all the flurry at backing in time...vivid write.

Bodhirose said...

Love those sound effects... I imagine you would start to feel like a machine in a repititious job like that. But a good one for a young man to cut his teeth on...really enjoyed this, Brian.

Eusebia Philotes said...

"decyphering their talk of life i haven't met yet"

Oh, man I loved working with the oldtimers when I was in my teens. Heard some wisdom, and much bravado. Always chuckling at the clever needles that fly, never taking offense, and knowing my place. Hah. Love it.

S.E.Ingraham said...

I really like how jam-packed with details and grittiness this is ... it literally brings it alive for me ... my husband's a survey-engineer and mile markers bear some significance for him (and by extrapolation now, for me too) and your photo's a dandy ... nicely done Brian.

. said...

I always angry when I read things like "King Soandso built this palace/church/monument" ... because he didn't do diddly ... as we all know ... slave works ... king takes the credit ...

Tammy Theriault said...

This poem reminded me of men waiting at the gas station for trucks to pick them up for work in texas....good poem!

Tammy Theriault said...

This poem reminded me of men waiting at the gas station for trucks to pick them up for work in texas....good poem!

thecourseofourseasons.com said...

Hi Brian - apparently I'm a loon and don't know how to post a comment lol - So hopefully this will get to you - I could see that 16 yr old boy - acting like a man in his steel toed boots. such a wonderful way you have with the sounds of the environment. As alwys, wonderful, my friend : ) K

Alice Audrey said...

The scent of sweat and cardboard makes this really vivid.

Jyoti Mishra said...

work seems less clumsy and tiresome when you do it on your own terms...
beautiful imagery again in your words :)

Hudson Howl said...

I grew up on Cohen, thanks to the Canadian public school system an a 'hip' HS teacher. To me his poems possess the tempo of life - a true life'r poet. So I immediately picked up on the tempo in this. It to speaks to the tempo and noise and endless hours of repetitiveness. Good shtufffs.

Susan Bellfield said...

Your poems are beautifully crafted stories. I am a true fan.

lucychili said...

when i was young i worked in an old lift, it had three speeds up and down and manual doors. your lift reminds me =)

Margaret said...

" decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet--"

Adore that image, :)

Cloudia said...

our memories of real work back in the day are very important parts of us, Bri, yes


ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

JANU said...

Not familiar with this line of work...but, your description is very vivid.

Fred Rutherford said...

nice last line. I like the analogy to art. Really nice how you brought the memory of the place alive through sound, nice approach. Nicely done. Thanks

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Yet another fine job writing that poem!

A Cuban In London said...

This spoke volumes to me "i'm sixteen & steel toed, waiting on the next
truck, decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet"

Not because I cut my teeth in a warehouse but because I had a similar experience at the same age. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

roardinario said...

I particularly liked these lines, Brian:

"i'm sixteen & steel toed, waiting on the next
truck, decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet--"

I love the way you go about description with this poem.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

You brought the experience to life, Brian. Made me think of similar jobs back in the day. The sounds and smells never go away.
Love this write, man!

Pauline said...

well, and now you are making art with words.

Gary Poetrytech said...

I used to call on manufacturing operations - this brings back memories!

Joanne Cucinello said...

Hi Brian,
I too love these reflective lines . . .
"i'm sixteen & steel toed, waiting on the next
truck, decyphering their talk of life
i haven't met yet---HMMMmmm"

So very real, so very poignant. Reminding me of those years myself, as a teenage girl, only hearing things about love and romance . . . that I tried to decypher . . . would that ever be for me?! Thanks . . . I really liked it!

Nilanjana Bose said...

cars move with intent, rush the hour - loved that. mindless is also art, loved that too!

ayala said...

A great poem, Brian. I love the images and the feel of this-great!

kkkkaty said...

You drew quite a complete picture of the workday then..full of the lingo to boot...a man's job is his honor..whatever it may be ..nicely done and I could feel a Cohen beat;)

adeeyoyo said...

Oh, I could just picture it... especially the 'look busy, you;ll be okay'. I wonder how many of could relate. Loved the whole thing.

Syd said...

Sounds like it was a job that brings back a lot of memories. And the sounds were an integral part of it all.

afterhisimage said...

Roman columns built in loading dock life times..excellent poem Brian.

RMP said...

I do so love the opening line. your words bring to life the scene as though a motion picture were unfold from the page.

Renee said...

No time like the present to write about something important in your past. Working at age sixteen...you grow up fast and looks to be you've done pretty darn good. Nice write, Brian.

Jenny said...

Brian, you certainly are gifted~! Nice write...the younger generation misses out on a number of things....learning how to work and how to get along with people.. your memories bring to life my memories of working at a 5 and 10........

adan said...

the daily grind of survival, now and back with dinosaurs, is exactly that, an art indeed

so many interesting turns of phrases in this piece, really enjoyed it brian

esp liked,

"old men
blow the day's first cigarettes
in roman columns" ;-)

Savage Heathen said...

Wow, love the imagery in this. I could see those old men with their cigarettes. Really cool read.