blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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The Electrician's Mate, 1954

The steel pin coiled his arm like a filament
in a tungsten bulb. He had tumbled off
a scaffold while wiring neon signs. Now
he could not join the army, hold a gun.


The sky burned incandescent overhead.
He steered his family into the cellar,
leaned out with a hissing cigarette, watched,
counted the survivors under his breath.


Radium needles were inserted but
escaped, jutting through his skin. He wanted
to see rhododendrons flare awake,
not just the cage of his bed, his cancer.


You become your job and miss it more than
your wife, your children. Glass breaks but the current
is live. Anyone can see it leaping
in his eyes, searching for a way out.  end

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