Poetry by Rees Nielsen

To be a Man

when it’s 105
and the machinery gums up
everything you’ve got to have
breaks down
it is so hot
and you can’t find that fucking wrench
anywhere
and even if you did
it would burn the shit
out of your hand
the dreams you cherish
no longer fruit
not yet wine
it’s destiny
you have to load the truck
so Roberto says,
“Hey boss
maybe tonight after work
you jog home
sweat off a couple pounds.”
real funny, amigo
you are 45
not quite correct
politically or otherwise
you’ve eaten too much red meat
you are a thousand packs of cigarettes
over the line
you worry too much
and the only retirement
you have to look forward to
is a dirt nap
when you get home
your wife, who has been up
and at work since 4
is in the process of paying bills,
she is going to be tired and cranky
too
it’s 106
and the sun keeps hitting you
in the belly
clang
clang
clang
like you are in the ring
and the bastard’s got something
heavy in his glove
you made it through another round
you try to breathe
but the crowd’s roaring with the smell of blood
waiting to see if you’re going to come out of your corner
you are never going to be rich
you are never going to be famous
the other guy
is going to get the shot at the big time

Let’s find out
if you’re a man

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About Rees Nielsen

Rees Nielsen is 61 years old.  For 35+ years he farmed stone fruit in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a mile southwest of Selma.  In 2010, two years after his wife Riina passed away, he moved to Indianola, Iowa to watch his grandkids grow up.  His poems often reflect on his experiences as a small independent farmer.