Labor Day

By Joseph Millar Joseph Millar
Even the bosses are sleeping late
in the dusty light of September.

The parking lot’s empty and no one cares.
No one unloads a ladder, steps on the gas

or starts up the big machines in the shop,
sanding and grinding, cutting and binding.

No one lays a flat bead of flux over a metal seam
or lowers the steel forks from a tailgate.

Shadows gather inside the sleeve
of the empty thermos beside the sink,

the bells go still by the channel buoy,
the wind lies down in the west,

the tuna boats rest on their tie-up lines
turning a little, this way and that.

Poem copyright ©2012 by Joseph Millar from his most recent book of poems, Blue Rust, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Joseph Millar and the publisher.

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Poet Joseph Millar

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Biography

Poet Joseph Millar grew up in western Pennsylvania and was educated at Penn State and the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned an MA in poetry writing. He worked as a commercial fisherman and telephone repairman for more than 20 years, and his accessible narrative poems, influenced by the work of poets Philip Levine and James Wright, often take working life as a means of engaging themes of class, family, and romantic love. . . .

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Poems by Joseph Millar

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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