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after Cesare Pavese
See the men break through the early morning mist
like phantoms from a dream; their hat brims
pulled low, shirt sleeves rolled above elbows,
boots caked with last week’s mud. See their long
mustaches and chins like sandpaper – Germans, Irish,
Italians, Polish, Catholics, Protestants, thieves –
some with eyes still bright and anxious like the children
they once were, others, like the men from the Buckeye Fish
Company, gaze solemnly into some fathomless heaven
or hell. Even John Hilton’s bricklayers have grown old
before their time. See these men plow through soot
covered streets like horses, converging from all directions,
leaving their homes and tiny boarding house rooms,
their wives, lovers, mothers, children – all their sorrowing
disappointments, behind. See these men unloading
the pulpwood freighters from Manitoulin Island,
destined for Pennsylvania and paper. See the boys running,
laughing, gloriously truant, picking through the trash bins.
Look down Central Avenue to Third Street, past the opera house
and Friendly Tavern, just a block or so north of
the whore house and city hall; see the westbound locomotive
derailed, lying on its side, gasping like a wounded animal,
and farther south, farther even, than the trolley’s last stop –
see the hills of Arkwright and Cassadaga explode into color.
Copyright 2016. From A Blister of Stars by Jason Irwin. Published by Low Ghost Press.
My mind is filled with all kinds of images from this wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is a wonderfully vivid and evocative poem Jason! We do see it all and my goodness you say so much in just four words: “all their sorrowing disappointments”. Thank you!
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