Living Monument

This poem is dedicated to Ken Himma and his clothes.

Your clothes are an ode
to the laborers of a century gone,
the union workers,
the Irish immigrant
in the gangs of New York,
those work boots, a telling symbol
of the age before
of progress, of steel,
a fanfare for the common man.
Here’s to the crowded streets,
the empty pockets and
theadbare carpet bags!
Your denim jeans are
a salute to the miners
who fueled the age of progress,
whose sweat and accidents and injuries
moved us with steel and coal into today.
As I sit watching you,
I begin to hear
the whistle of steam engines
and the sound of steel on steel.
But the black overcoats
and tall black hats
are now long forgotten,
a last attempt to save
the quickly dying breed
known as the bourgeoisie.
So easily can I imagine
the boxing match of bare fists
your vest and scarf neglected
and a dollar that says you’ll win.
Woven in each thread of your shirt,
I see the strikes,
the brave marches of suffragettes,
the liberation of the working class,
the history that writes today.
There you stand, tall and strong,
a living monument
of the working man.

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