The Boiler

Sean Thomas Dougherty

DAY SHIFTS

We are bored & abandoned at dawn rising with our backs bent, under
     labor our lives stitched more vividly by the wounds in our language,
our own country with highways the jetty we stand on of heavy
     drinking, with machinery rhyming the rain, cursing managers whose
asses we won’t kiss. Go ahead, fire us, we’ll sing another portrait of
     ourselves—barges & truck stops & dead children & spit on your tie.
We’ll piss & burn on your manicured lawns. We’ll suffer all summer
     without air-conditioning. When each breath to breathe becomes
work, we are what we are inside an invisible system—we will
     implode it with a voice, & a guitar. Fuck the dying elms & cut down
the Cherry tree. I slept on a bus station bench, the shouting of small
     children, tied with a string, crossing the street, the simple gift of a
cup of coffee & a cigarette. To cross carrying our own crosses we
     cross carrying Hop-Scotch & Double-Dutch, the old men playing
Dominos & the boys spitting old rhymes like rusty ammo. Who is
     there to understand? The night sirens sing their eulogies & last night
another kid shot down. The blue light of an afterhours joint, no one
     speaks until this old brother turns to me, didn’t you get the
message? A voice like sunlight through a broken factory window.
     The terrible chords of the bar band, that scaffold I climb, hands
bound with coarse cloth, tethered to a scaffold, (Jesus you wrong,
     they knew exactly what they were doing & they did it anyways,
sometimes forgiveness isn’t worth shit. But in the late evening of a
     humid week there is still a chance at redemption. So I will trick them
into believing I quit & disappear into another stupid job in the cold &
     work my hands raw lifting things, & spend the last years of my life
sitting by the shore & drawing in the sand with a stick. My daughter
draws with a stick in the sand, what are you drawing I ask her? The
     sound of God weeping—

_____________________

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 13 books including All You Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 (2014 BOA Editions) and Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press). Recent poems in North American Review, and Best American Poetry 2014. He works in a pool hall in Erie, PA.