Vox Populi

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Robert Gibb: Home Scrap Project — Unemployed Steel Worker, 1987-1988

for Ramon Elouza


Close-ups in an eye-level lineup,

His photographed faces hung on their wall,

Each behind lines of writing,


well I lost my job my wife and about to lose

my home because of the shut down


The testaments part of the portraiture,

Each background story fronted

In its signature cursive scrawl.


no one wants to hire me because I am a steel worker

made too much money working at the mill


It must have felt like they were filling out

Yet one more requisite form

To be filed away with their folders.


my spouse has supported the household since

my layoff & ran out of unemployment funds


The harshness of the colors part of the portraits

As well, as if they’d been developed

In some brownfield seep,


loss of wife & family, loss of friends,

loss of self-respect & esteem


Some bath of acids in which the features

Have been set, flesh and bone—

Each wheal of iris, each pupil’s black hole.


Copyright 2018 Robert Gibb

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