Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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back T.R. HUMMER

A Trade
What have I learned but
the proper use for several tools?

—Gary Snyder

But the names of tools are magical. Just
write adze or axe or brace and bit
And feel the shimmering presence of the pure
simple laborer, so superior in service
Of a single skill that the aura of Jesus
the Carpenter hangs in the cloud of oak dust
That noble artisan is raising, though the spirits
he drinks nightly inspire in him the skills
He needs to whip his children masterfully.
No one paints the lawyer hacking away
With her legal briefs, tools of a numinous profession,
or even the dentist leaning over the shining drill.
It would make more sense to write epics about the fingers
of ancient murderers, doubling down
On their vocation, trading the horrible history
of pistol and dagger for the most archaic
And fundamental instruments, literal blood
on the hands at last, bits of skin beneath the nails.  

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