Sunday, April 14, 2024

In Most Respects by Alan Abrams

And such as it is to be of these more or less I am…
~Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

You see them everywhere, in clumps of five or six,
at the 7-Eleven, huddled, exhaling steam,
collars turned up, hands jammed deep in pockets;
whole bunches of them at the Home Depot parking lot,
when the asphalt must be 140 degrees, their
desperate eyes seeking yours as you drive past
them, as you search for a closer space.

In the early afternoon, after they’ve given up,
they hang out around a picnic table in the shade
of a big gum tree, drinking Bud, paid for
by someone’s woman who cleans offices at midnight.
The younger ones are nearby, playing futbol,
stripped to the waist.

Once in a while, one of them gets lucky,
climbs into the cab of a pickup truck
with a sandwich in a paper sack.
He runs the jackhammer you rented
for seven hours straight, cutting a trench for
a sewer pipe through 40 feet of solid ledge.

You pay him cash, and ask if he can find his way
back tomorrow morning. Twenty-odd years later,
his daughter, a Dreamer, is finishing her degree
in accounting, and he’s driving past another
half dozen guys, to pick up a load of studs
in a battered F-150, legal in most respects.


Alan Abrams has worked in motorcycle shops, construction sites, and architecture studios. He has lived in the heart of big cities, and in the boonies on unpaved roads. His poems and stories have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Rat’s Ass Review, The Raven’s Perch, Bud and Branch (UK), LitBop, and many others. His poem “Aleinu,” published by Bourgeon, is nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.