A poem from a couple years ago, inspired by the novel I’m working on, working title of which is The Eight Mile Suspended Carvinal. This is the character Beede talking. I can’t do line breaks right in html, so I think the word “vast” was originally on the line above where it appears, but below it’s an orphan, which makes sense in the story of the novel at least.
Who lost track past midnight at the Spurlock Munitions Factory, near-river, 1917?
Oh yes Oh yes Oh yes
What you’re to see, boys, you dark, dirty skells, you
seen plenty spark here, what else, you’re thinking
you constitute yourselves of solids, you’re commanding
gentlemen, can take some things, maybe you’ve traveled, say
Illinois, Illinoise, farther, it does not take ambitious nature
to see the world, just a slick hand and some loose pocket. Rust is everywhere–
Davey knows my language. So you did time, who hasn’t, all we got is time in this vast
bum’s end of things, I’ve spit up wet gobs of coal, we’re all the same
just don’t get caught. Once saw a man dangling from a shagbark hickory, by the neck, all of it, tree bark and scales fallen from those eyes, all I can say is use the brain-pan,
don’t get caught
and you won’t end up with any fallen scales, don’t laugh back there, it wasn’t all
that amusing seeing that man up there, the weight of himself dead
meat. He didn’t have much luck.
But you’ve stepped up around here, all of you,
waiting on that kiss which makes us all breathe in, every crusted morning, for the long years we’ve got, a kiss humid and lovely like that mind-reader at the carnival,
she’s got curves, wait another day and maybe you’ll find that luck somewhere. Factory life got you groaning, you’re thinking anew, ready for this
fire? Let me take off my shirt now. The way I do it, you won’t even see the spark,
just watch. Lucien B. Dunavant will show you the light.
You count your breaths; I’ll count mine. That old sack granddaddy Spurlock
has not one thing on me.