Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SECTION GANG: MORNING, by NORMAN BOLKER

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SECTION GANG: MORNING, by            
First Line: Even steel, with its tough heart
Last Line: And he feels the impact of a well completed swing of his pointed pick.
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Morning; Railroads; Work; Workers; Railways; Trains

Even steel, with its tough heart,
will shrink with cold
and stretch with heat.
Under the weight of a thousand-pound wheel
and the rough vibrant scraping of the flange,
even steel will warp and wear weak, even steel,
till its ingots scream for the pain
and it either cracks or crystallizes and becomes unsafe to carry
the rough incautious freight cars of the nation.
Then the section gang comes out.
They, with picks and shovels for arms
and a foreman for a brain,
replace the bad and weakened rails
and straighten out the crooked.
They on summer mornings, when the air is steamy hot,
ride the little puffing handcars up and down the tracks.
When the crystal dew has not yet soaked into the rusty dust,
they have stopped, unloaded tools, and started on the job of repairing weak and twisted
Gandy dancers use picks.
Swinging in solid grooves,
they bite into the gritty gravel
piercing it, chewing it, tearing it up
by glittering arcs of flying steel.
Life is hard but life is good to the gandy dancer in the morning,
when his belly is full of ham and eggs,
the sun spills out on his naked chest,
and he feels the impact of a well completed swing of his pointed pick.

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