Showing posts with label working class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label working class. Show all posts

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Collector

The Collector


If you’re his wife, you’ve quit
asking why it all piles up out there
in the yard for everyone to see
from the highway.  Hubcaps from ghostly coupes.
Beer signs in neon cursive.  Coke machines,
cars, cars, cars.  You keep the house
and the backyard according to your principles.
You hate the mechanism in men
that drives them to love machinery.

If you’re his dog, you
urinate on tires encircling weeds.
You sniff varieties of rust,
chase squirrels until they disappear,
until you ram your hot wet nose
into angle iron; it all
makes the yard difficult.

Now, supposing you’re the younger son,
you don’t hate him yet.
Your friends think he’s a wealthy man,
a pirate maybe; they beg
their parents to let them come over,
Crawl through doorless cars, turn
cranks, patent imaginary uses

for useless contraptions.  You know
what it’s all for.  It’s there
to look at, to touch; it’s part
of a big landscape that whirls by
every day outside of School.

You’re the collector.  You can’t
help yourself. You’ll fix one thing
and trade it away for three things
you can’t fix.  The dog pisses on it all,
knocks over cans going after squirrels,
laps up rust-water.  You can’t
keep The neighbor-kids away. 

The younger boy, he follows you around
all day asking What’s this for?  What’s
this for?  You can’t understand why
your wife can’t understand why iron
and motors and axles are necessary,                                       
why strewn is the best way to keep
it all in order.

You stare right back at people
who drive by and scowl at your yard.
You know they’re driving junk.
Their houses are filled with junk that works.
You’ll get hold of it soon enough.


Hans Ostrom, from The Coast Starlight: Collected Poems 1976-2006

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Truck Driver's Aubade"



Listen: sunrise stirs bugs in dry grass.
The long whine of a steel guitar
curves into a wide blue highway.

This peace is easy to take, I'll tell you.
We kiss, kick off the covers
as if they were dead butterflies,
and grab each other, laughing.

The radio drops out its three-chord,
Two-minute-fifty songs,
most of them the same
except for the names, just like
the matchbooks in amber ashtrays
on the sticky counter-tops
on outdoor tables at truck-stops.

--Where I’ll rest elbows,
the thick roar of sixteen
tires still in my ears.

Darling, if I look at the ass of the waitress
while she's filling up my Thermos,
know it's only out of habit.

If my heart growls like a diesel for you
when dawn spills across the hood
of the Peterbilt, know I'm thinking of this morning

and of gearing down again on the grade
a full two miles from your place. This place. 


copyright Hans Ostrom 1983/2014

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Voting Biblical Principles

Someone encouraged me
to vote for Biblical principles
in a recent election. I didn't
see any on the ballot.

Well, now, there was
this one thing about supporting
a bond to maintain bus-routes
in this city. I know how
working people have the Devil's
own time getting to and from
work, shops, family, and clinics.

Although Jesus Christ
never rode a bus, only
a donkey, I still figured
voting to pay to keep up
the bus-routes wasn't
anti-Biblical.  Right?

The measure failed.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Brief of History of the Working Class


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Labor Day seems like a good occasion to mention the following book:

A Short History of the U.S. Working Class: From Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century (Revolutionary Studies), by Paul Le Blanc (Humanity Books, 1999).