Friday, March 13, 2009

Mark Turpin: Before Groundbreak

Just like Joseph Millar, who I reviewed a couple of days ago, Mark Turpin spent 25 years working in the trades in the San Francisco Bay Area. In Mark's case, he was a crew foreman and a master carpenter. I wonder if he and Joseph knew each other. I wonder if I ran into either of them on a job site and didn't know it.

Mark's book is called Hammer: Poems.

Mark, I'd be honored to meet you if you're still in the area. Meanwhile, I hope it's okay if I quote a few of your poems.

And to anybody who reads the poem and likes it, to anybody who thinks hammers and concrete and Skilsaws are the stuff of poetry, I have a suggestion: Buy the book. It's the same price as three beers at my local bar. The book will stay with you a lot longer, and you won't have to visit some scuzzy bar bathroom.

Before Groundbreak

Off work and going upslope for a look
I left the plans, to see the view
their money bought, weighted with a rock,

and trampled a path of parted weeds
past pampas, nettles,
poison oak bristling in the breeze,

a weathered 2x4 nailed high up in a cedar's fork,
a haggard pair of panties waving
stiffly from a thorn,

I walked where they would walk.
Standing there, out of breath, where
they would stand, vacuuming,

or reaching for a towel, how bare
and graspable it will seem, and, ever-present,
our time and effort spent.

(From Hammer: Poems, copyright © 2003 by Mark Turpin.)

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