by LAWRENCE KEARNEY
It's early March, Eisenhower still
president, & Mother's heating up supper
for the third time tonight.
We're at the table doing homework,
& she tells us Father's next in line
for foreman, that today he'll know for sure.
He's three hours late.
Half past eight the Chevy
screeches into the carport.
For a minute, nothing.
Then the sudden slam, & the thump downstairs
to the basement. Beneath our feet
Father lays into the workbench
with a sledgehammer--the jam jars
of nails, of screws, of nuts & bolts
he'd taken years to sort out
exploding against the wall.
Later, sheepish, he comes up,
slumps in his seat & asks for supper.
And when Mother brings his plate
& he looks up at her
& she takes his head on her breast,
he blushes, turns away, & spits out
that final, weary-mouthed answer
to all of it--General Motors & the bosses
& the union pimps & the punched-out Johnnies,
every yes-man goddam ass-lick
who'd ever been jumped to foreman
over him-- aah, crap's like cream, it rises.
From Peter Oresick and Nicholas Coles, editors, "Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life" (An Illini Book/University of Illinois Press: $13.95 paper; 269 pp.; 0-252-06133-0). The editors of this collection of poetry from working-class, blue-collar America, past and present, are both from Pittsburgh: Oresick is marketing manager at the University of Pittsburgh Press, Coles teaches in the University of Pittsburgh English Department. Kearney, born in Oxford, now lives in Buffalo, N . Y. 1990, Lawrence Kearney. Reprinted by permission of University of Illinois Press.