the louderARTS Project

Jack Wiler


Jack Wiler was raised in Wenonah, in southern New Jersey.  He has lived for the past 25 years in Hudson County with a brief layover in Wenonah four years ago.  He has been a manager for a blood distribution center, managed a senior citizen's lunch program, and sold weightlifting supplies.  For most of his life he has worked in pest control and currently works with Acme Exterminating in New York City.

He has been published in a number of little magazines, primarily Long Shot Magazine.  He worked with the Geraldine Dodge Foundation in New Jersey as a visiting poet in the schools.  For six years he was the editor of the late, great, Long Shot Magazine. 
He has read his work extensively in New York and New Jersey. He was a Festival Poet this fall at the Geraldine R Dodge Festival of Poetry.  His work has been anthologized in Aloud, the anthology of the Nuyorican Poets Café, the Outlaw Poetry Anthology from Thundermouth Press, Bum Rush the Page and most recently The Breath of Parted Lips II from Cavankerry Press.

His book, I Have No Clue, was published by Long Shot in November of 1996.  His second book, Fun Being Me, was published in September, 2006 by Cavankerry Press.  Bob Holman recently named it one of the ten best books of poetry in 2006 on about.com.

 

The Poem Where I Say Thank You

You know, it's really not that bad that I get paid
two fifty an hour for work that needs to be done.
Work I would do for free.
Work that needs to be done.
Like a farmer who has a second job so he can afford
to bring in the hay each summer.
Like a painter who labors as a printer
then goes home to some dirty loft,
paints for five hours,
alone,
to make something people might never see.
It's not the money.
It's not job advancement.
It's the accretion of paint,
the tufts of hay glowing in the late summer,
the roar of the tractor,
the shouts of the boy in the back of the truck.
It's the great deep gulp of water after hours of hard work.
It's the mumbled gasp of awe when a friend
walks into the studio and says,
Oh, my God
Oh, my God
We go to work.
We buy our coffee in paper cups and pour in cream.
We want to do well and
we get frustrated when we fail.
But we still have the loft.
We still have the field.
The field our father left us.
The farm eaten by sub divisions so all that is left
is six small acres and
only my brother cares about the farm.
He still gets up at five and
trudges out in his boots
to see to the cows and the pigs and the scraggly chickens
and when he tells people at work he's a farmer they laugh.
A farmer.
Why do you get up early to feed the stupid pigs and
come home late to plow the land and
ask the boss for a couple days off at haying time and
he says haying time what the fuck is that.
What indeed.
What about the crisp smell of turpentine and oil?
What about the rasp of knife on canvas?
What about the question of white?
What about the happy rush of pigs to the trough,
the satisfying turn of plow through earth?
The deep smell of things long buried?
Who else knows and who else cares and still
you take up brush and knife and cleaver and plow.
Dig deep in the earth and work and work
and think this is it.
This is it?
Oh, but my friend this is it!
This is the glorious rush of fruition!
This is harvest.
This is pumpkins dotting the soil everywhere.
Potatoes spilling up out of the ground like angry bones.
This is ugly red and awkward gesso and the spread of manure.
This is the man with dirty boots walking at 5am
in a field in South Jersey saying what the fuck am I doing?
This is our job.
The housewife rising at 6 to put the sandwiches in the bags
for lunch for the kids that are so sick of peanut butter and jelly
they'd kill for bologna.
This is the mechanic sick with a hangover
sliding under an engine at 7am
that's got to be ready for some old guy by 9 and
you think he could wait at least a little.
This is the girl in the WaWa filling urn after urn of okay coffee
for league upon league of men in dirty boots
spilling out of pick up after pick up after pick up.
She says last night my daughter and
I made a mountain out of paste for her project.
It was a map of the universe and
I didn't even know where Wanaque was
but there it was right where my father grew up.
Right next to the factory where he worked for
twenty odd years till he had sense enough to move.
Who works?
Who paints?
Who are we?
People who farm.
People who work.
People with courage and kids and
jobs that pay okay and
at least I have benefits and
I think every day I wake up that it's a blessing
I have today.
A blessing.
So the farmer turns under the crop.
So the painter smears white over everything and starts again.
So you get up and take a shower and drink your coffee and kiss the wife and think your kids are ungrateful but then on the way to work
You notice the way the air smells today.
You see the golden tinge of sun on the fields you drive by every day.
You notice the brief brush of clouds over the sun and the fog hugging
the deep places on the back roads and you say, maybe, maybe
It's a blessing.



© Jack Wiler



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