Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day Poem

This Monday I am reading at the Railyard Park at noon, right after Major David Coss.
There will be free food and Democrats. Nobody told me about the Democrats, not that
there's anything wrong with them. I was invited as if I would be showing solidarity to the workers of the world. I started to feel extremely Pablo Neruda about it. So I wrote a poem,
as I was asked to do. In case you can't make it, here is my poem:::::

Preface : Pablo Neruda said, a Nobel Prize is good

and I’m sure he could use the money,

but the best is when the miners, coming from deep

in the earth recited his poems to him.

He was that kind of poet, and those odes

he wrote to common things, the socks, the spoon,

the loaf of bread, a violin in California,

to me are stand-ins for common folk

when maybe it isn’t safe to say how much

you love, how close you’ve grown to earth.

And so I dedicate this poem to him,

over the heads of families, under the Santa Fe

blue sky and living wages in at least a few pockets.

I myself have all I need times ten. We built

our house, we carried water seven years.

I volunteered to simplify, here’s how and why.

Labor Day Poem :

The best job I ever had was driving a school bus

right out of college and I thought it a job suitable

for a poet, cruising the upscale suburb in a Blue Bird

bus and my family hoped I wouldn’t be recognized.

the best job I ever had was teaching kindergarten,

the kids in the morning and the kids in the afternoon.

I taught them the hora and the Mexican Hat Dance

and Woody Guthrie. Even now, all in their 40’s

they wonder where they got these tunes.

The best job I ever had was working in a firehouse

with the lost children. Every staff meeting we’d disagree

about autism and how to hold the children when they

couldn’t hold themselves. That was a job I walked to

past a corner bakery on 9th and Judah that sold pirogues.

The best job I ever had was selling garden plants

1973, I watered all the trees, carried bags

of steer manure to cars. I learned to say maybe

you watered it too much, or maybe too little.

The best job was not substitute teaching.

I got the spitballs and the thumbtacks on my chair.

I got the attitudes and how by high school

even then, they’d given up.

The best job was waiting tables at El Paragua in EspaƱola

My old boss still knows me, says, “Oh Joanie, I remember

when you dropped the steak and lobster.” And I recall

the sopapilla basket I set on fire, too close to the candle.

But even then I felt the joy of work and customers

treated us as humans not as servants, but still I tip well

in homage to those days.

In Santa Fe, on Canyon Road, I swept the patio

in my apron as the tourist bus passed by the Haven.

I tried to look like local color. Then I was a chiropractor’s

right hand until my third child came onto the scene, I mean,

I was a mother almost all along and that was a hidden

love and job of work.

And all along I gave my life to poetry, which begs

the question, am I management or labor? Thirty years

and here I stand. I always thought if I aimed low,

kept my feet on solid earth, I’d be myself for the long haul.

My self, the best job I ever had,

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