Jerry Singing At His Lathe

Slim and mustached
Jerry sang his heart out
In bib overalls at his lathe –
The Mario Lanza of Kent-Moore Tools.

Ribbons of curled metal gathered at his feet
As he cut hard steel into usable parts.
He glanced at the prints,
Reset the turret to take a second pass
And belted out another chorus.

Jerry retro-dreamed of New York,
Of lessons, certificates, Juilliard
And arias finished with outstretched arms –
Visions derailed but unforgotten.

Global madness sent him instead to France.
With a pack and an M1 in place of scores
Jerry helped set Paris free
Yet never set foot on its stages.

Kent-Moore paid him well
And masked by din of colliding metal
Jerry sang and sang and sang all day
For rivet guns and turret lathes.
His voice would melt your heart.

by Robert Charles Howard

Comments (6)

Howard, This is stunning. For the singing and the sadness and the ribbons of metal curling so beautifully and for the perfection of the rendition of this singer through your pen. Glorious work. love, Allie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
A wonderful write Robert. The manner in which art is unwittingly with us all the time. I wondered (having worked in factories) whether the narrative could have emphasised the need to alienate oneself from drudgery of work by singing. I reckon this piece touches that (it could be just me) . It begs the question of what is the importsant labour (this had always been a thorn for those who called themselve Marxists) . Is it the skill of the use of the voice or the repititional work for things that are necessary? My own view is that a society that cannot satisfactoraly answer this is sadly lacking. The structure of this is flawless and I feel that you have pored over each word. The use of simple language such as 'sang his heart out' is excellently deployed.
Great poem, Robert! So many dreams go unfulfilled as real life has a way of crushing them. Awesome ending line... well done! ! Brian
That's a lovely warm-hearted poem. Fairchild, Levine, would have liked it, I hope, Kooser too. And others I haven't yet read...
You have painted a word portrait of a great human being., Very fragile and very beautiful, Robert. Kind regards, Sandra
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