I didn't like working a jackhammer
but the boss said its raucous
locker room chatter made me a man.
And as I walk past construction sites
I see those same knives
of stubble in the faces of workmen
who call out to passing women.
Chatter, chatter, chatter, is the sound.
They call the part of the jackhammer
that cuts the blade.
This is the thing.
Some people have strong ideas
on what it means to be a man.
Bulk in the shoulders.
Beer on the breath and in the gut.
A roughness toward every thing.
The view it must be won, bent or broken.
Why did they want to make me one of them?
My ancestors knew the hard work of spruce,
how living things adapt to landscape.
I survive by knowing
even the hardest case
when cut still sweetly bleeds.
published in Paterson Literary Review No. 43 (2015-6)