The Art and Craft of Living

Hammer Poems

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Mark Turpin

The Box

When I see driven nails I think of the hammer and the hand,

his mood, the weather, the time of year, what he packed

for lunch, how built up was the house,

the neighborhood, could he see another job from here?


And where was the lumber stacked, in what closet

stood the nail kegs, where did the boss unroll

the plans, which room was chosen for lunch?  And where

did the sun strike first?  Which wall cut the wind?


What was the picture in his mind as the hammer

hit the nail?  A conversation?  Another joke, a cigarette

or Friday, getting drunk, a woman, his wife, his youngest

kid or a side job he planned to make ends meet?


Maybe he pictured just the nail,

the slight swirl in the center of the head and raised

the hammer, and brought it down with fury and with skill

and sank it with a single blow.


Not a difficult trick for a journeyman, no harder

than figuring stairs or a hip-and-valley roof

or staking out a lot, but neither is a house,

a house is just a box fastened with thousands of nails.

1 Responses »

  1. i appreciated the invitation to contemplate human details that are so often overlooked by big picture perceptions

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