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By David Rivard

After his ham & cheese in the drape factory cafeteria,

having slipped by the bald shipping foreman

to ride a rattling elevator to the attic

where doves flicker into the massive eaves

and where piled boxes of out-of-style

cotton and lace won’t ever be

decorating anyone’s sun parlor windows.

Having dozed off in that hideout he fixed

between five four-by-six cardboard storage cartons

while the rest of us pack Mediterranean Dreams

and Colonial Ruffles and drapes colored like moons,

and he wakes lost—

shot through

into a world of unlocked unlocking light—

suddenly he knows where he is and feels half nuts

and feels like killing some pigeons with a slingshot.


That’s all, and that’s why he pokes

his calloused fingers into the broken machinery,

hunting for loose nuts a half inch wide—

five greasy cold ones that warm in his pocket—

and yanks back the snag-cut strip of inner tube

with a nut snug at the curve to snap it

at the soft chest of a dopey bird.

Then the noise of pigeons flopping down

to creosoted hardwood, and then a grin

the guy gives me & all his other pals later.

And afternoon tightens down on all

our shoulders, until the shift whistle

blasts, blowing through the plant like air

through lace. As it always has, as it does.

That bright. That stunned.


David Rivard, “Torque” from Torque. Copyright © 1988 by David Rivard. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Torque (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988)

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Poet Bio

David Rivard
David Rivard was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. With his first verse collection, Torque, David Rivard distinguished himself as a writer of volatile poems with striking imagery. In this work Rivard concentrates on the working-class tenor. Fast automobiles, assembly lines, basketball games, and drug users are all developed to tell the stories of childhood, relationships, and life that are prominent in Rivard's work, along with a sense of despair and an awareness of life's hardships.  See More By This Poet

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