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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 6: January 2021
Ekphrastic Poem: 160 words
By Richard Nester



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. 


Richard Nester
Issue 6, January 2021

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 Inlandia.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Richard Nester: Featured Author in Floyd County Moonshine (Issue 7.2, Summer 2015)

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