Doing Demolition Work Again

By  Jamie Thomas

Featured Art: Road in Etten by Vincent Van Gogh

What’s your next book going to be called,
Demolition Work Still Sucks But Here I Am Again?
—John (on the job site)

There is no larger truth here
that has found me helping
John and Ken again,
to tear out the master bathroom
of this wealthy couple in Washington Twp.,

except that work, hard labor, has overtaken me again—
no matter how many tricks I’ve used
to throw it off the scent—
and I am not at all happy about it,
and I am not all that used to it, my blood
on the shards of tile and grout
we’re prying from the shower.

But luckily there is this bucket for me
to sit on while we take lunch in silence.
My silence says I’ll be back to my classroom
in a couple more days; theirs says
the next job is tomorrow.
Together they say There is nothing waiting for us
there, on the other side
of a back-spasming day of work
except a paycheck—and the fact
that though we wake to another day
of the same grueling, tired sentence,
wake in fact we do.


Jamie Thomas is the author of the poetry collection Etch and Blur (Brick Road Poetry Press). His poems have appeared in such journals as 32 Poems, 5 AM, The Chariton Review, Grist, The Missouri Review, Rattle, and online at Verse Daily. He currently lives in Detroit and teaches in the Languages and Literature Department at Ferris State University.

Originally appeared in NOR 14.

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