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Sample Poems:

In your sugar bowl, Frank said,
sugar gets hard and sticks to the sides.
It's no different in the various silos
at the Spreckels mill.
Three of us are lowered on ropes
into a silo each shift,
dressed in a sort of moon suit
with pickaxe and shovel.
For the next eight
we pry the sugar from the walls.

Each time when I touched bottom
I'd say to myself: "It's a small step
for a man, but a giant leap
for the working class." The foreman
never went down. He's supposed to stay on top
to watch our ropes
but he regularly takes off somewhere.
Anyway, nobody bothers to be hauled up
when we have to take a piss.
We just let fly where we stand.
I stopped using sugar much when I got that work.

They had us on rotating shifts
which I didn't like.
But graveyards were best.
I or somebody would carve a bed
in the sugar, out of the foreman's line of vision.
We'd usually manage
to each grab a few hours sleep during the night.

Strangest part of the job, though,
was my boots. No matter how clean they looked
when I took them off
or where in the house I left them
they'd both be completely covered with ants
when I'd go to put them on for work again.

After failure, I enter into
a zone or bubble of silence.
I continue to travel, but the rage and echo of voices
including my own
sound fainter and fainter astern. I coast
within a smoothness wrapped in quiet --
not large, but protective
and beautiful: a pod lined with mother of pearl
soft to the touch, thick, insulating.
Nothing is asked of me, in this fragile
but resilient space
that carries me forward.

And when this zone docks
at the edge of another area
for me to disembark
the mating will be evident
only by the slightest click
and an almost imperceptible rocking motion,
quickly stilled.