Of crops sown, the new mown, the buildings built on vacant lots,
Of the shirts of blue and shirts of white, the every day commuter flight,
The backs bend forth over field or desk, the drip of brow and the drops
Of sweat; the sighs, the ruined eyes, the muscles strained, those who die
Creating the economy that taxes our credulity as well as our wallet and soul.
Ah, the jobs I’ve held, or should I say, the jobs that held me.
Bound to the clock on another’s sleeve so have I spend my time,
Being there at beck and call, doing little or doing it all.
It mattered not in the scheme of things, not to the rhythm or rhyme
Of what was in my mind. No, the necessary daily grind was a wall
You beat upon or clawed with nails, banged your head, tried to climb.
Honest work I do not disparage. I’ve fulfilled my own with honest pride
In achievement and accomplishment. But all in all I would have rather been
The underfed artist burnishing the blazing pen of truth dramatized,
Than those deceived by the glittering façade of success and wealth.
Now the wasted youth, those stolen hours, what have they gained of worth?
A crumbling society of grasping greed, cheap thrills and broken health.
Here I stand behind a lifetime of labor and where is the monument?
It was just make work after all, a putting in of the time, a clog.
Most places that paid me my wage to make their gears turn
Are footnotes in the history of industry, a jotting in a log.
That I was soon not missed each time I left is probably quite true.
I’ve broke your clock and falled your wall and miss you not at all.
Photos from some places I worked: Atlantic Refining Company (later ARCo), Philadelphia Gum, Welded Tube Co. of America, Wilmington Trust Co. (2 Photos), Mercantile Press and Chicos.
This poem could almost be a companion piece to the essay I recently did on my "Drinking of Old Men" Blog entitled, "A History of Work".