"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Sawdust

The drill press could chew through a finger.
The table saw would slice off a hand.
Mr. G., at the lathe, wore a purple bowtie
to keep his neck in place.

Sandpaper was far safer and sorted
by grades – not the seventh or eighth, like us,
but the coarse, the fine and the very fine,
pale lines above Margaret Keegan’s lips.

We sanded, stopping only to feel the wood,
groping for a surface smooth as a kiss.
From our work, sawdust sailed on sunbeams,
making land on our arms and our rolled-up sleeves,
setting camp in the wilds of our hair.

Wearing our sawdust, a new and manly smell,
we couldn’t wait to see how the girls in Math
would swoon
at the bold red hearts we’d carved for them
and all since the morning bell.


PJ Krass’ poems have appeared in Rattle, American Journal of Poetry, Atlanta Review, and others. His poem “All Dressed in Green” received a Pushcart Prize special mention. Peter teaches at The Writers Studio, where he recently created an online workshop for writers over 50. He’s the poetry co-editor of The Writers Studio At 30 (Epiphany Editions, 2017).

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Abecedarian of Loss

Abecedarian of Loss

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