Forget the wild weeds along the river
and the dirt paths dividing the mountains.
Let me embrace the city,
its rotten canals and its tankers. I will ride
the trolley wobbling along Erie Avenue
like some wild hog, sniffing the ground
for its hole. I will remove
the bloody aprons from the men
at the slaughter house - the smell
of burning fat settling on their rubber boots.
I will condemn the asbestos factory
where laborers wittle down to nothing:
transparent skin with a cage
of veins locking in the souls.
I will collect in the light and the dark
as a new lyric envelopes
the city I once betrayed.
Lunch Break Outside the Joseph Oat's Machine Shop
On a pier right above the Delaware & adjacent to a factory,
a man takes a lunch break,
legs kicking absent-mindedly as he ponders
the number of holes he needs to drill through
thick steel plates. His green t-shirt with the pocket
left of center contrasts the white stucco wall,
streaked with rust run-off from the corrugated roof,
which shields him now from the work
on the inside. The work that will provide some
unknown man a million dollars this month. The work
that won America its cold war. The work
that made Wall Street bullish. The work
that tells him he needs an industrial revolution
to pay his mortgage and bowling dues.
A brackish river, which coils through Camden
and Philadelphia, transports barges
loaded with cooling towers
and heat exchangers for nuclear
power plants to places
far beyond the man’s imagination.
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