Pink Slip at Tool & Dye

He can only drink tea now, screwed and filed.
She is dead, in metal flecks.

55 years old and look like a bad nail
by God they yanked me out
I can tell you

soon as the hurt come son shut up
it don’t mean nothing

but listen: you got time for a ride?

Habit’s put the glass in his hands, the brown
tasteless tea, slime, and cigarettes.
Every Sunday the same, old dog
fat at his feet.

Ain’t so much me I’m asking for
dog like to get out and piss
think they remember.

Near the main gate of Gary Steel I stop.
The amber light pours out of stacked horizons,
monstrous cranes hang over suburbs.

She think that piss mean something
it don’t mean nothing.

Turning back in the dark, headlights flash
on our faces, bent, light of a woman’s hair.

Dave Smith, “Pink Slip at Tool & Die” from Cumberland Station (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1976). Copyright © 1976 by Dave Smith. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Cumberland Station (1976)
More Poems by Dave Smith