JULY 2023 SPOTLIGHT: JOHN McPHERSON
John began entering writing contests in his mid seventies. He has had poems published in Avocet, a nature poetry quarterly, as well as the weekly on-line version, in Cantos, a publication of Missouri Baptist College, WCCW and PRA anthologies. This month’s featured poem won first place at last year’s Lucidity Conference / Workshop.
(On Seeing A Photo Of A Ditch Digger, Smiling)
I dig America’s ditches.
I pick America’s fruit.
I trim her lawns.
I make up her beds and sweep her floors.
I do countless other tasks with hands
that are rough and calloused and often grimy.
I work in the sun, and in the rain and in the cold.
I am a jack-of-all trades,
but neither a tradesman or a craftsman.
I am a laborer.
I swing a pick-ax, push a broom,
load your barges, tote your bales,
and wash your clothes.
I come in all shapes and sizes.
All nationalities: Irish, Chinese, African-American, Latino
and countless others.
Hear me America!
In the past I dug your canals, picked your cotton, mined your coal,
laid your rails and carved your roads out of the wilderness.
I have been used, abused, exploited, cursed,
unappreciated, neglected and underpaid.
Long hours and unsafe working conditions were the norm.
When I got hurt and couldn’t work I was fired.
When I got killed it was my fault.
But I refused to quit,
went to work with aching back,
sore muscles and tired feet.
Finally I got organized,
demanded changes and slowly things got better.
A Holiday was named in my honor
but I still go to work with a sore back
aching muscles and tired feet.
I am an American laborer—
And I am proud!
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