Lyrical Somerville – August 9

On August 9, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times


Paul Marion has been a writer and community activist since the 1970s. He is the author of several collections of poetry as well as the editor of the early writings of Jack Kerouac, Atop an Underwood, and other titles. His recent book, Mill Power, tells the story of the innovative national park in Lowell, Massachusetts, and the city’s acclaimed revival, a model for small industrial cities everywhere. His work has appeared in anthologies and literary journals such as Alaska Quarterly Review and The Massachusetts Review. In 1978 he created Loom Press, a small publishing company that promotes writing from the Merrimack River Valley. Among other accomplishments on the community front, he co-founded the Lowell Folk Festival and Lowell Heritage Partnership, an alliance of people and organizations whose mission is to care for architecture, nature, and culture. His latest collection of poetry is Union River. I interviewed Paul on my show Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer at the Somerville Media Center studios.

Trash Pickers by the Cape Highway

Paul Marion

Triumphant music pouring forth
As my car glides over the Sagamore Bridge.
Scrub pine off the highway.
The trash pickers of Scusset
Have pilgrim sand in their cuffs.
Orange safety belts across their backs.
Yellow plastic bags of junk.
The gray Cape. A wide wale sky.
I want to see the result of my work.
I want to do a simple job and like it.


Majestik Linen

In a subterranean room roaring like a jet,
Sunday workers feed or unload machines,
Busy in twos and threes at their stations.
Plain as old-time mill operatives, they handle cloth by the mile:
Nursing-home pillow cases, dinner napkins, green scrubs from the ER,
Loved sheets, double-bleached butchers’ aprons, hotel towels,
Well-fed tablecloths from a club luncheon.
The linen workers take it in and pass it on—their canvases unsigned.
A young woman catches my face in the window.
Instead of giving her a wave, any kind of nod,
I freeze like a common eavesdropper.
She turns back to her work, what most of us won’t see
Unless we’re in the Flats at the hour of the early Mass,
Following the drone of automatic washers
To a sunrise service recognized worldwide.
Their names are in the phone book with ours.
We get the job done. We know the drill by heart.
We press and fold the linen before it is loaded onto trucks,
Bound for back doors across the city.

— Paul Marion


To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to:
Doug Holder, 25 School St.; Somerville, MA 02143



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