All in the Wrist
by FLAVIAN MARK LUPINETTI
While the rest of the crew huddled in the shadow of
the pickling tank, safe from the sun but
breathing in the nitric, I picked up the
jackhammer for the first time. I had turned
nineteen only two weeks before, and my fellow
mill hogs laughed behind my back,
knowing I’d live to regret my enthusiasm.
I regretted it as soon as I woke up
the next afternoon, my hands swollen
big as Polish hams, every tendon from my fingertips
to my shoulders aflame, every ligament crying
a surrender. When I punched back in at eleven o’clock
that night, I picked up the jackhammer
again. This put an end to the laughter. On
that night I became Hammering Jack, and for
twenty-seven years I made that tool mine.
I made it mind me. I used it like a surgeon uses a
scalpel, dissecting cement and asphalt and
railroad beds. I divided roads. I excised
bridge abutments. Until the day the bosses said
the mill doesn’t need a hammering man anymore.
These days the Komatsu twelve fifty takes
down a cinder block foundation in fifteen minutes,
a job that took a week for an average crew or even
a couple of days for one good hammering man.
Engine on the Komatsu torques
five fourteen horse. What’s more, it
has an arm agile as a copperhead,
jaws delicate as a praying mantis.
It moves crisp. It flips over twenty ton
of rebar-reinforced concrete wall as precise
as the dealer flipping over the jack of clubs.
Man, that machine.
I never took much interest in the skilled trades.
Welder, carpenter, electrician.
Jackhammer became a living thing in my hands.
Wouldn’t put it down by choice
any more than I’d put down my dog.
I had good luck for a hammering man.
These days my only real problem is my hearing, and if
the mill still paid health care for retirees,
I could sign up for an ear operation and
cover the remaining costs with my pension, if
the mill still paid pensions.
I had good luck for a hammering man.
The back never gave out like some.
The wife says it must have rattled my
brain good, just nobody can tell the difference.
Hard to turn my wrists with the bones fused, joints
halfway flexed. Don’t laugh when I scratch my
face with the back of my fingers.
Whiplash Ashore & Thermidor?
by CHARLES ORLOSKI
“Every successful revolution has its Thermidor.”
E.H. Carr, “Stalin,” Soviet Studies, July 1953; Page 3
During foggy “Morning in America,”
Gipper ascension, Iron Curtain fall,
you might have noticed special phenomenon –
Greener grass available over seas
for oligarchs and prune-faced Bankers
who never met ambitious politicians
and cheap labor they did not like.
Corporate benefactors enjoy paradise
beyond that promised by smirking bush gods.
Wealth become speech, private islands,
starlets upon every mattress,
Marc Rich pardons for sale,
and world intelligence & police
assigned as all-encapsulating condom,
forever protecting the Rich Man
from Lazarus’s “preferential option” sphere1,
Nevermore land of ugly sores.
May 21, 2014,
morning after Pennsylvania primaries,
like Adam’s exit from Eden Gardens, Ur,
I rode C.O.L.T.S. bus transportation
to Scranton’s Gerrity’s Market.
Stuffed in back pack, a portable poster
proclaimed “Down with food monopolies!”
Rainfall, at Gerrity’s entrance, I blocked door,
raised poster for fellow consumers to see.
Cries from anxious coupon-holders,
tears of fear, “Arrest him, arrest him!”
Apples hurled my way, I hurt, revolted.
One bite into cracked Empire apple,
a worm reared head, dropped, dropped,
slipped deep into juicy white core.
The worm naively thought it escaped,
avoided becoming bait, disenfranchisement,
until my front teeth fracked in pursuit –
Worm blood bubbled, other half free to join
the United Jacobin Fruit Growers Club of CA.
So much I know about thermidorian reactions –
Rains of Terror subject to reigns of sun shine…,
the early worm gets the meatiest oligarch,
and why do I always awaken so late?
1. “Preferential option for the poor” is a concept controversially introduced in a 1968 letter, written by Father Pedro Arrupe, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, addressed to Latin American Jesuits. Presumably such available policy was not just rah-rah political “points-of-light” and income tax deductible strategy talk that 21st century religious “haves” are so accustomed and conditioned to hearing.
Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morning Coffee and the News
by ROBERT A. DAVIES
Great to sit at the kitchen table
over coffee and the paper.
This morning the world is gone
Without the Times’ lies
the news is of sports celebrities and scandals
of course tons of ads
And what not to do in Gardens and Mansions
And where people like us should go.
We go to the internet instead,
are surprised to find truth
(facts evidence reasoned opinion)
on employment peace habeas corpus
(itself in red: incorrect
or non-existent, says our spell-check)
on the justice of banksters going to jail,
all the things we cannot vote for.
Robert A. Davies is the author of Melons and Mendelssohn. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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