MAP 64

Theme: The Working Stiff

Thanks to all who have generously offered your poetry.

Upcoming themes:

#65 - Poets Travel Advisory: When planning your Chinese holiday... (Political poetry)

#66 - February Is Black History Month

#67 - Valentine's Day: Cupid, Have you improved your aim yet?

I decided on "The Working Stiff" theme after AIPF Chairman Frank Pool told me he'd had a poem accepted for publication in The Working Stiff Journal. His poem, "Ludlow", appears in the Winter 1998 Issue of the journal, available for free at Fringeware.

1. From Patsy Cruiser of Austin.

Special Ed Teacher

They come to me, running, skipping,

bursting into my semblance of structure.

With the patience I can muster,

I redirect, guide, calm their high spirits.

They come to me, hesitantly,

fearful, tearful, broken, upset

Struggling to understand,

I encourage, cajole, hug, wipe their tears.

Their handicaps affect them,

make them difficult to deal with

Together, we make music,

joyful, to pick them up, or wistful,

to affirm what they are feeling.

Lucky, lucky me:

I love for a living.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2. From John Hawk of Austin

Mr. Jones's Sign

After repetitive trips

To Mr. Jones's room

Reorienting, explaining

and sedating

The charge nurse

Made a sign

With big letters and

Posted it where

Mr. Jones could easily see it

SPECIALTY HOSPITAL OF AUSTIN

ROOM 217

SECOND FLOOR

After three days

Seeing that the sign

Was of little use and in

Anticipation of the usual questions

I thought of making another sign

The size of a poster

For him to read

Good for any hour of the day

MR. JONES

IF YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM

PRESS THE RED BUTTON

YOU ARE IN AUSTIN

YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL

YOU HAVE PNEUMONIA

YOU MAY NOT GET OUT OF BED

THE DOCTORS HAVE ALL GONE HOME

IT'S THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING

YOUR WIFE KNOWS YOU ARE HERE

YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL

WE CANNOT CALL YOUR WIFE

IT'S THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING

YOU HAVE BEEN HERE FOR THREE DAYS

WHEN YOU FINISH READING THIS

START AGAIN FROM THE TOP

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3. From Chuck Rice of Coral Springs, Florida

Listen

I have worked so long and so hard,

against circumstance and uncertainty

the hammer and anvil

that beat our minds into swords,

hearts into plowshares

and our poor damned souls

never knowing

which one to trust.

I have worked so long and so hard

baking bricks, or bread

I can't tell anymore,

the oven's fires raging deep

into my soul

where fierce poems are formed

like blown glass

delicate as truth

to throw at death and run.

I have worked so long and so hard

that I've forgotten what it was

that I was working for

until tonight,

when I saw my children's sleeping faces.

Then again, if I wasn't so tired,

lying out here, in the grass

in the back yard at 11:00 P.M.

under the soothing stars

of a clear January night

might seem a little crazy,

and I wouldn't hear God

use cricket legs

to sing His poems to me,

the ones He worked on

so long and so hard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4. From Wolfgang of Las Vegas, who wrote, "With the Super Bowl at hand, thought I'd send this along for the games people play." Ed.'s Note: "Games People Play" was last week's theme, but NFL guys are working stiffs, too, right?

Football

Love to watch your steroid butts

numbered like beef

Jawarski names

emblazoned on carapace armor

shiny beetle helmets

grimacing facial grid

Makes me wonder

how high you could jump

nude and free

in sheer joy of prowess

unencumbered by the battle

emancipated from the team

But like a single mind

splintered into bits

coming back together

with a mission and a plan

in ponderous ballet

you hurl your flesh into the breach

For an idea

To win

They call it play

but we know better

ready to be broken on the rack of combat

in the struggle of life

To give all

for a moment

To give all

for immortality

© 1999 Wolfgang