The Worker

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 02, 2018

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Submitted: June 02, 2018



He’d a spark in his eye and a bounce in his stride

As he walked down the road with a bag at his side.

He was seventeen years on the day he left home

To find happiness henceforth the wide world to roam.


“Fare-thee-well my dear mother, someday I’ll return

With a pure loving wife and a fortune I’ll earn.

From endeavors of labor I never shall shirk;

For the sum of success is devotion to work.”


He was true to his word when he laid his first brick,

Soon he proved himself hardy, both sturdy and quick.

So affixed was his mind on the effort hereby

That he worked day and night till three years soon passed by.


“With the years I have spent making walls out of clay

I’ve but pennies to show at the end of the day.

Though the labor I love, some advancement I’ll take;

As a foreman perhaps my career I shall make.”


At his side were his tools and his shirt full of grime

As he walked up the stairs while the bell rang the time.

To the men in the office he offered his case

While through teeth clean and white they did smile at his face.


“You are far the best worker that ever we’ve seen

And for that five more pennies per day you shall glean.

But so steady a worker we can’t do without,

So keep up the good work till we give you a shout.”


Given heart by such praises that strengthened his pride

He redoubled his efforts to prove himself tried.

After seven such years now his heart felt a pain

As he pondered his life, giving pause once again.


“All my love has been given to shaping of stone,

But it’s time I no longer took bread all alone.

I am strong, I’ve some money, I’m loyal and true,

I’ll go down to the town for a woman to woo.”


From the brickyard he marched with a confident air.

He was muscled and handsome, his eyes bright and fair.

‘Twas a month till he won the best beauty in town;

In another he’d bought her a ring and a gown.


“I know happiness now that my life is complete.

 But if love gives us children, they surely must eat.

My dear wife, from henceforth I’ll be gone by the day

Twice as hard must I work now to garner more pay.”


Two more years in the ditches he made his employ,

Little time he had free, though he spent it in joy.

But his wife was not patient with time so hard-spent,

And she took herself off with a dandy new gent.


“I know not why I lost her for whom I grew rough,

But it seems that I labored not quite hard enough.

I did fail, but I’ll work evermore while I can,

And so prove to creation that I’m still a man.”


By the night in the brickyard, by day in the pit,

Losing track of the time, never pausing to sit,

Put he down entertaining pursuit of a goal,

For a dream but diluted his unyielding soul.


“I am better with each mighty swing of the pick,

More deserving whenever I lay a new brick.

All I am, all I know is in work to abide;

Someday God or some man will see how I have tried.”


Now his eyes held no spark and he strained for his sight,

While the sweat ran thin streams past a beard that was white.

Once more lifting the pick, he held trembling his side;

He had broke his old heart, and so digging he died.


“Had this one any family, some friends that he knew?

Even those who can tell us his name are but few.

Since no wife has come forth nor do children hold claim,

Push him into his ditch, buried cheap with no shame.”


As the earth he’d uncovered now covered him back,

No one saw how his face, under smudges of black,

Showed no longer the stress of a soul straining deep;

From his life without rest he’d forevermore sleep.


© Copyright 2018 John M. Broadhead. All rights reserved.

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