Friday Poem

The Toolmaker Unemployed

—Connecticut River Valley, 1992

The toolmaker
is sixty years old
since the letter
from his boss
at the machine shop.

He carries
a cooler of soda
so as not to carry
a flask of whiskey.

During the hours
of his shift,
he is building a barn
with borrowed lumber
or hacking at trees
in the yard.

The family watches
and listens to talk
of a bullet
in the forehead,
maybe for himself,
maybe for the man
holding the second mortgage.

he stares down
into his wallet.

by Martín Espada
City of Coughing and Dead Radiators
W.W. Norton Company, 1993