His biceps are as big and as hard
as cannon balls, the man in the Soviet documentary
who is building Stalin’s bridge, his railway, his refinery.
No doubt he’s been ordered here but he seems
as happy as if it was his idea—
his bridge, his railway, his refinery—pleased
with the laying down and the picking up,
the breaking and the putting back.
You can tell by his hearty laugh
and his nearly toothless grin that he knows
for sure he is the best one to have ever
done it and that he could keep it up, amid
his playthings, the dirt and the heavy lifting,
from dawn till dusk and longer.
Who wins and who loses? Stalin wasting,
fat and frightened in his bed, his arteries
hardening, until his blood turns to iron
or this man with his hearty, almost toothless,
happy laugh. In the moment of the photo,
the work, the never-ending work, belongs to him.
is the author of four books of poems, the most recent being Red Truck Bear
(Kelsay, 2020). His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including
Cape Discovery: the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Anthology, Ploughshares,
and Seneca Review, and on-line in Qarrtsiluni and
Richard Nester: Featured Author in Floyd County Moonshine
(Issue 7.2, Summer 2015)