by Jorge Evans
Fair season and we’re tent pitching
on holy grounds in central Illinois,
busting through pavement with jack hammers,
driving home a stake that will be pulled two months
from now. One of us holds, the other presses
down, grease shooting between cracks
in the old hammer’s worn shell
to our hands and faces—one slip and we’ve
lost our toes. I’m from the warehouse,
not the tent crew. I haven’t ridden around
in tent haulers across the nation
popping tents here and there, but for this,
the state fair, the warehousers are let out
to feel important. Around us a silvered city
has risen, white vinyl tents at full mast
and clean for the first time in a year. It’s August.
It’s the summer’s dogged days when humidity
doesn’t break until midnight, an hour after
the fair’s closed down. We’re piled on back
of a flatbed with our tools, our tiredness.
We’re a monster understood best
by Midwesterners, devouring parking lots
and fields, our teeth stained by cigarette
and chew, some of us not old enough, some
too old. All of us here for the overtime.

0 thoughts on “Overtime

  1. This piece gave me real insight into the subject character, the group who he is a part of, and his outlook on life. I’d hazard a guess that the poem is written from the personal experience of the poet and not just a ‘well-researched’ perspective exercise (though those too can sometimes be very impressive).
    Shared hardship along the path of life creates a feeling of brotherhood. No one wants to be alone…especially when enduring a thing that may seem so unnatural–like working nightshift and/or doing tons and tons of overtime–to laboriously trudge on testing the bounds of physical and spiritual strength. But money is needed for survival. We have to eat. We have to live. Though it’s at these times we often question what we’re doing and the necessity of it. As a result, many times, we learn to ‘not question’ what we do because of the ‘can of worms’ it opens…”is this what i was made for?…”…”is this what i’ll do for the rest of my life?…”…”is this all there is?”…
    Hard manual labor requires a toughness. i think this piece elucidates this plight/predicament thru apt job description. They may only be there for the overtime, but they take a lot more out of it and gain life wisdom from their trevails. Well done! Thx for sharing!

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