John Martin

laughing through grad school
(academic stuff) (hints of life beyond
school and work)
(Flying Moose videos, photos, stories, etc.) (observations)
Old Steel

Above the workbench of an old man,
tin cans hold nails in waiting.
Waiting for the spring of hammers
to drive them once again.
Rusty, all of them, pulled
from walls, forgotten,
bent in the prying,
straightened in the cold.
The old man took the cans
in January, when wood was split
and piled, and winds stacked
white against door jambs.
By the stove's low light
he sat, the straightening stump,
and hammered out the bends of winter,
warmed with stubborn strikes.
Old steel holds better, he said,
rust grips wood and will not slip.
His fingers (swollen) at the end
of each night covered, rusty red.
Impatient nails ignore their fate,
at once revealed in heavy hits.
They snap or yield beneath the blows,
and break or come out straight.

-john martin 1999