November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Steve Oldford/Poetry

I Know Who Built the Pyramids

I came in cold.
Some guys I work with were gathered around,
staring at a paper, pinned above the time clock.
It was pinned in a crooked way, done in haste,
in a manner without regard for those eyes that fell upon it now.

Just a paragraph, colder than the winds outside.

Due to a lack of orders in our backlog,
we are looking for volunteers for layoffs.
Those who are interested see Human Resources.

The rest of the page reflected our faces, blank and drained of color.
Layoffs.

The roof was leaking from the rain and melting snow.
Everywhere there were buckets catching drops of water,
and puddles were new leaks were starting,
and rumors.
Filling every bucket until they overflowed.

They’re looking for twenty guys,
if not more.
If they don’t get volunteers then
they look to the junior employees.

New puddles,
no one even tries to control.

We might all be locked out.
The leaks are overwhelming.
We might all be in the unemployment line.

No health insurance then.
Not for the guy who has cancer.
Or the two, who’s wives have cancer.
Or the two who are expecting.

But fears are quelled when we work.
When we use our hands, amidst
the pounding of the machines.
We break a sweat, and it’s zen.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression,
and acceptance all before we clock out.

Even by break time,
the boys are cracking wise again.

You see,
I know who toiled under
those stones at the Great Pyramids,
who fruitlessly charged at the German trenches,
cut a swath through the Burmese mountain range,
because I work with them.

I’m proud to be counted among them,
people who keep their chin up,
even though it’s where they get hit
every time.

Unlike those we work for,
our wealth is in misery and hardship.
And we consume it with might.
The might of David when he shouted the Psalms to God
from the dark of a cave.

Yes, we can joke and smile,
even when we walk the gallows,
and ask the executioner,
“Are you sure this is safe?”

We can laugh now,
because it’s either
laugh, or cry.

About the poet:
Steven Oldford is an unskilled laborer and freelance writer.  In all honesty, this is his first submission, resulting from encouragement by his former professor, Joe Weil.  Oldford currently lives with his wife, daughter, and a mountain of student loans, in Hallstead, PA.