Saturday, 30 July 2022 07:37

Jean Valjean stole that loaf of bread for all of us

Written by
in Poetry
Jean Valjean stole that loaf of bread for all of us

Jean Valjean stole that loaf of bread for all of us

by Fred Voss

These machinists or welders or overhead crane operators
who voted for Trump
and wave huge red white and blue flags from the back of their pickup trucks
work under the same tin roof
as me
a socialist poet who keeps his socialist poetry under wraps, secret,
in this factory
don’t we
all get thinner and thinner and thinner
when we don’t have enough to eat
can’t a wrench
in our hands
make a Brooklyn Bridge for lovers to look up at
or a piano bench
for Beethoven to sit on
so he can put moonlight into piano keys
can’t a hammer
in our fist pound a nail into the bed under Napoleon
or Einstein
a ray of sun
hitting our backs as we face engine lathe or crane hook or weld bead
on a cold winter morning
warm our souls
a concrete floor
we have walked across for 30 years tell us we are getting old
with each new ache in knees and hips
isn’t holding a baby granddaughter to our breast and rocking her
worth every star
in the sky
don’t we all crave cool water
when we walk across a mile of summer desert sand at noon
won’t lightning from the sky
strike us both dead
the fat cats at the top
pick both our pockets
didn’t Jean Valjean steal that loaf of bread
for all of us
so we wouldn’t starve
and aren’t the smoking chips of steel on our milling machine tables
and the beads of sweat
trickling down our backs
enough truth to tell us all
riding down his golden escalator
with his slogans and orange hair and red hats and Mussolini chin
is a lie?

Read 1477 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 August 2022 12:24
Fred Voss

Fred Voss, a machinist for 35 years, has had three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, and two by Culture Matters: The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, and Robots Have No BonesHis latest book is Someday There Will Be Machine Shops Full of Roses and is available from Smokestack Books.