commercial-truck-representing teamsters poem


Now must be the time to make time,
judging from the rapid bump of semis
filling my room. (Having discharged live loads
at Albany are they–at 4 A.M.–
on to loads of cold-rolled sheet?)

At All-Night Stops, in the presumptive day
of mercury vapor you see them circling their rigs,
testing with ballpeen for the "No flat here"
that 18 Firestones better sing:
you overhear them in booths, in the assumed
accent of crackers prolonging
a mythology of getting through.

In shirt tails and shit kickers, awkward
as crabs, no wonder their withdrawal
into the greater identity of cabs.
Atop chrome registers they double clutch
in intricate shifts, feel in gear trains
for the nodes to make this mother move.

Muncie... South Bend ... Kankakee,
on handfuls of speed they test the limits:
Smokey's temper, templates of curves,
tread's griplessness on ice,
the harebrained, hairpin possibilities.

Eating the rinse their mudflaps fling,
I can ignore how they highball our good grief,
what their bumpers say they pay in taxes,
even the menace of their Brotherhood.
Bring our bread with incivility
they may, but (under their seats the proper answer
for highjackers) bring us our bread they do.

John Barr/from The Hundred Fathom Curve New and Collected Poems

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