Each month we spotlight one of our members. This time around, we feature a poem from 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!

You can find out more about John on his member profile page.

Visit the WCCW Group Member Spotlight page.