Work More and Better

Last Friday, I saw a tweet suggesting a project based on Woody Guthrie's New Years Rulins, 1943. I dug many of the list items, but it was that first resolution that struck me, making it into my little notebook and niggling at me throughout the day. Friday evening I sat down and wrote out a poem and worked on it between outings on Saturday. Saturday night I recorded it.

What I learned from the process:
  • I have written quite a lot in the past, but recently I've felt too busy with kids, work and other projects to do anything. It felt great to do this.

  • The revision process involved here is worth showing to my students. Next time I do this I will save drafts.

  • I have never recorded myself reading a poem before, but Tom O'Bedlam's Spoken Verse inspired me. I did about five takes, changing the poem slightly each time after hearing something differently from the speakers that I didn't hear from within my own head when reading out loud.

  • I need to get a microphone.


So here it is:





Work More and Better

Around me
are objects
I've left
as I think
and read
and discuss --
about work,
its meaning
and satisfactions,
the symbolism
and the significance,
sociology
and ideology,
defining roles,
making lists,
strategizing
and philosophizing.

But not now.


For now it is time to work.


Time to do to clean to cook to make to write to fix to build
to create to refine.
Time to use fingers and backs and hands and feet and faces and mouths and minds? even minds.
It is time.


Time to suffer (yes, suffer)
Blisters and backaches and strained eyes and twisted ankles
but more than that
we suffer as the cake doesn't rise, the colors don't match, the cut's not straight, the words don't fit--
we suffer as dreams become a broken mess
and we start all over again.


It is time to expose our ideas to the light
and see if they have any shine.


(But are you prepared -- should you learn before you do?)


Yes, now we are ready to work:
we learn as we work as we learn as we work --
and the notion creates a thing
and the thing creates a notion
and so it goes and goes.

So let us invoke the rolled-up sleeves, the bony fingers, noses and grindstones, shoulders and wheels,
And then let's get on with it.


For now it is time to work.

Comments