Sunday, February 5, 2017


The Man Who Sees Underground
Eight am, thirteen degrees
waiting in my car to keep warm
Mike drives up in his backhoe
I hadn’t met him before today
he shakes my hand
looks at me through a lazy eye
tells me he’s the man who sees underground
He asks if I’ve seen Bo. I think maybe Bo is a ghost
I mean he’ll be dead in less than four months
when the kools and iron city in his liver
turn to cancer and then don’t leave
Instead we chase around what the job may require
I return to the warmth of the car
he to the space heater in the cab and the crazy right wing radio
Mike votes outside his interest
He knocks on the window an hour later
hands me a shovel and says
I’ll start to pull out the fill
I’ll need you to move dirt here and there
I stand at the top of the hillock
where porch meets the dirt
We yell over diesel
where the standpipe is
how far down the sewage or main is
It’s the water main that’s broken
I’m amazed at the grace
the teeth, the bucket
gentle through dirt
How he sifts through fill
I never imagined poetry
in the use of a front end loader
He pulls out a bush
lays it on the sidewalk
a spent lover
time served
Problems start
water main runs under sewer line
which runs outside the house
elbows back under the stairs
Even a man who sees underground can’t anticipate this
He cracks sewer line
I stand ankle deep in shit
We wait for Bo, when Bo arrives he is not a ghost
He and his kools and Mike and his lazy eye
spend the day bickering like a married couple
The shit freezes, I freeze, we freeze
I run jackhammers, listen as muscles have seizures
We spend ten hours with grey skies
We don’t feel the cold
We don’t feel the dread of the women who will be murdered
We don’t feel the cancer coming
We just grunt through shit and watch the backhoe
write poems in freezing dirt
                         --Jason Baldinger

Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs, if only poetry was the strangest of them he’d have far less to talk about. Somewhere in time he has traveled the country, and wrote a few books. The latest of which “The Lower 48” (Six Gallery Press) and the chapbook “The Studs Terkel Blues” (Night Ballet Press) are all available now. A short litany of publishing credits include: The New Yinzer, Shatter Wig Press, Blast Furnace, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Green Panda Press, Uppagus, Anti Heroin Chic, In-between Hangovers, Your One Phone Call and Lilliput Review. You can also hear audio of some poems on the bandcamp website by just typing in his name.

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