Every man who works with his hands
Has seen that look. Perhaps we showed up
To patch the roof, service the furnace,
Or unclog the sewer, and the pasty
Bank manager expounds his idiotic theory
Of what should be done. His wife
With her $200 haircut points her
Manicured finger at the wet place
On the ceiling. We do the work
And stand there, not knowing what to do
With our hands as she makes out the check
Complaining of the cost. As we explain
What was involved, she looks at us
As if we were just released from prison,
Correct in her questions, rude
In her attitude. Her husband brags
How he could’ve done the work
But doesn’t have time these days
busy with clients, blah blah blah.
They despise us because they depend on us.
How long will they survive in the coming collapse
Of their roofs, their pink bathrooms
Filling with shit, their Wedgewood china
Traded for scraps of food?
After they’ve burned the last stick
Of furniture in the fireplace
They’ll flee their useless homes,
Beg to join us beside the fire,
Greedily devour our rabbit meat,
The bowl of weeds our wives gathered,
Admire our hairy large-knuckled hands,
And tremble as we howl with the dogs at the moon.
MICHAEL SIMMS has been active in politics and poetry for over 40 years as a writer, teacher, editor, and community activist. He is the founder of Autumn House Press, a nonprofit publisher of books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; Vox Populi, an online magazine of poetry, politics and nature; and Coal Hill Review, an online literary magazine. He’s also the author of four collections of poetry and a college textbook about poetry — and the lead editor of over 100 published books. Simms has an MFA from the University of Iowa and a Certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell University. He lives with his wife, Eva, and their two children in the historic Mount Washington neighborhood overlooking the city of Pittsburgh.
Author’s note: “‘Hands’ is a poem about the workmen who maintain our homes, but are usually taken for granted to a degree that they are invisible.”
These poems are for Eva.
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