Wednesday, 02 May 2018 21:11

why not a job: two poems for May Day from Martin Hayes and Fred Voss

Written by
in Poetry
Labour Day
Labour Day
by Farshaad Razmjouie

Martin Hayes has sent in a poem dedicated to Fred Voss, and the compliment has been returned.

why not a job

by Martin Hayes

after Fred Voss

why not a job
to dedicate your life to
why does it always have to be
a man who died on a cross
or who sat under a fig tree
or who was the last messenger
to bring the words of an invisible and unreachable God to us
those words
don’t feed us or keep us warm
they don’t feed the homeless man or woman
but a job could put a pair of gloves on a pair of their hands
a job could put a hat on their head
and help stop them from getting cold
why does a job not get sung out for in churches
have drums
beaten for
why not a job that pays for the water and food that goes into the mouths of our families
wouldn’t it be better to stand up for our right to have a job
rather than our right to hold a gun in our hands
why not a job
to wave banners about in the air for
to hold hands on the 1st of May for
why not a job
that pays for a roof over our heads
feeds electricity and heat into our homes
rather than a bullet into a ‘rag-head’ neck
why not a job as our right
rather than these Gods
that we keep rattling our cages for
why can’t these jobs be our Gods
our way of earning a living
the religion
we would die for
rather than the colour of a flag

PR Workers by Peter Kennard

Workers, by Peter Kennard

Are we really not worthy of a poem?

by Fred Voss

after Martin Hayes

Are we really not worthy of a poem
are we meant to be hidden behind windowless tin walls all our lives
we workers
we soldiers in a war for our lives
we all have hands hopes ears
to hear our baby’s first words tears
beside our father’s deathbed
we are Huck Finn willing to go on down that Mississippi River with escaped slave Jim
even if it means going to Hell we are
all a piece of the universe a piece of each other
a hand on a hammer
a heart bursting to do its best
an arm reaching for a drowning man
a back wet with sweat
a muscle true as sunrise
a cheer for a friend
a smile for another day to open our eyes under the same sky as the swordfish and the bear
a laugh because we are still alive and have a chance
as Charlie Chaplin tramps down his open road twirling his cane even though he doesn’t have
a penny in his pocket
happy to sharpen a drill bit against a grinding wheel
tell a story to a grandchild
make the wheel that rolls the cup that pours the whistle that blows
the cymbal that crashes the wing that lifts the steel I-beam that stands the trombone
that slides the pan that cooks the curtain
that opens on A Streetcar Named Desire the chisel
that cuts a jewel for the finger of a beaming bride the bell
that will ring the day the tyrant is brought to his knees the bread
the man unemployed for a year will break the day he finally finds work the shoe
that fits the key that unlocks the shovel that buries the candle that burns the revolution
that frees the Volkswagen
13 clowns climb out of the hairbrush for a woman who finally feels beautiful the paintbrush
for Van Gogh if he had decided not to shoot himself the fire hydrant
that could have kept the 1906 city of San Francisco from burning down
we are all on the path
down the river in the game under
the stars inside the belly of the beast
of being alive
we all want to work
the way the stars work
the way our mother worked to birth us
the way the taxis arrive
and the apples ripen and the barber cuts and the electrician reaches for his pliers
and the ballerina leaps through the heart of Tchaikovsky
and the cats yawn and the grains of sand roll and the baker kneads his dough
we are all children
of the bones under the soil the knuckles of jackhammer operators the lunch pails
of stevedores the lonely midnight rides
of truck drivers the strikes of school bus drivers the striped hats
of railroad engineers
we are the foundation of the house
the smokestack
the loading dock the tin door thrown open to a rising sun the thumb
around a red monkey wrench the steel-toed boot
under a 2-ton bar of steel the beep
of a forklift the yodel of a ditch digger the flash
of a shooting star
we are why the numbers add up the rivers flow downhill the swallows
return to San Juan Capistrano each year
we are right as waves true as Sierra Nevada mountains indispensable
as air delightful
as eating a banana split in a gondola steered down a Venice canal by a man
singing Verdi
we will never be contained
by a bottom line
a profit graph
a brand name
and we should never let ourselves be turned against each other
to fatten the wallets of those who look down their nose
at us
let’s shine a light on what’s behind those tin walls
instead of looking back over our shoulders at the bosses in fear
let’s look forward to envision a new brave future of love
and equality and brotherhood
for we are worthy of 10,000 poems in our honor
let Van Gogh set up his easel
Beethoven sit down at his piano
Souza warm up his marching band
Marx sharpen his pencil Twain fire up his pipe
Rousseau loosen humanity’s chains
let Mona Lisa smile
Babe Ruth step up to the plate
Galileo drop his 2 cannonballs off the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Ulysses head for home
all’s right with the universe
as long as we workers have the dirt of the earth on our hands
and the truth of the tigers and the trees
in our hearts.


Read 2047 times Last modified on Friday, 04 May 2018 08:07
Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes has worked in the courier industry for 30 years. His latest collection is The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, published by Culture Matters.