Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Fred Shaw: The Toolbox

I search for the red-handled

Phillips-head among the clutter

of Dad’s Air Force toolbox;

the obsolete, English-sized wrenches,

the vise-grips and channel locks looking

to grasp smooth shouldered bolts

with their practical embrace.


The lesson I take from him:

find the proper tools for the job,

identify what works

from what is missing.

The screwdrivers we always lost.


I discovered freedom

in that basement at age twelve,

in the maintenance

of bike tires and caliper brakes,

sprocket and gooseneck,

stripping Allen-keys and bruising

knuckle, learning

how to speak of failure and success.


His once-stenciled name

has faded to a smudge,

the smell of old grease

mingles with the leather decaying

on the useless handle.

Both artifact and history,

this metal rectangle could

just as easily hold his bones

beneath its lid and latch.


Copyright 2017 Fred Shaw


Fred Shaw teaches English at Point Park University and Carlow University


One comment on “Fred Shaw: The Toolbox

  1. Maurice Pelletier & Elaine Smith
    December 9, 2017

    The Toolbox: a worthy elegy of a tool-and-die man. He took pride in his work as evidenced by his son’s eloquence & homage.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2017 by in Poetry and tagged , , , , , .

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