A Poem for May

How to Work                                                      

I’m talking about this old guy from here

name of Charley

that old boy was something

yep

could ride a horse standing up

I seen pikshers of him on his horse

Jiggs in World War I days

he’d swing his little bulldog Jiggs

around his head

dog holding on to the end of a rope with his teeth

suppose he liked the name Jiggs

 

that old boy could do some work

bought an eight-room house

no kitchen no bathroom

put ‘em both in by hisself

made the cupboards from scratch

landscaped the backyard

rock-walled gardens and a patio

took off the front porch and built a new one

added two rooms

that time his friend Everett helped out

 

old boy could do some work 

he was sixty-some and

 started shingling that two-storey place

by hisself

just a little guy maybe five-foot-one

hundred and ten or so

done some shingling before but not much

no matter

used asphalt shingles

stiff brittle stuff broke easy weighed

a ton, fifty pounds a bundle

he would sling it up

on his shoulder like a 15-pound ham

 

Charley wanted his boy to help some

and yes he did      some

 he told the boy to use the pre-drilled

nail holes in the shingles

driving the nails too deep’ll shatter the shingle

kid needed to pay more attention

than he was used to

three broke shingles and three ass-chewins

went a long ways for making the boy a worker

 

every night after work and weekends

got the job done in two years

that’s his house across the road there

sixty years nothing’s sagging

shingles‘re looking good

Charley’s been gone forty years now

yep

enough talk  let’s go

grab that bundle

sling it up on your shoulder

that’s the way, sling it

now bring it up the ladder to me

remember what I told you about

bein’ careful driving them nails

you and me we’ll get this goddam job going yet

and it won’t take no two years.

 

Copyright Larry Ambrose

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About Chicago Stories

I'm a Chicagoan, have been for fifty years. I've had a consulting business in the city for thirty-eight years, working with many Chicago companies and organizations and others around the world. Before that, I worked the city's race relations agency for five years.I am a volunteer tour guide for Chicago's Greeter Program and introduce visitors from around the world to this beautiful city. I'm also a writer of several professional books as well as poetry, essays and fiction. The city has become my inspiration, education and entertainment. View all posts by Chicago Stories

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