- Where All His Time Was Spent
Pop sanded and stained hardwood floorsuntil his spine revolted, until the chemicalshad seeped into his bloodstream and crackedhis calloused hands. Because of his bulgingbags of dust, because of all those years of steeringthose monstrous motors, with their punishing
decibels like a thousand rawhide beltswhipping at once against the boards,because his work had induceda constant ringing in his eardrums,that same tinnitus as Van Gogh,I could never work quite hard enough
even though I rode my bike at midnightat twelve years old, to return from the scaldingplates and sauce pots, garbage cans and mopsof that Italian restaurant, even after years of carryingbag after bag of Portland cement and flats of asphaltshingles on my shoulder, even as I honored himwith a burning back and stooping gait—
his suffering would always be the beatificpose on the cross. I could never compete,not with the next lawnmower or sledge,not with the paintbrush or pen;
I’ve spent so many yearshunched like Sisyphus, writing thisrolling boulder of a poem,attempting to animate [End Page 5] the man with giant hands,desperate to enliven the echoesin the empty spaces
where all his timewas spent. [End Page 6]
JASON ALLEN’s work has appeared in Passages North, Oregon Literary Review, Contemporary American Voices, Cream City Review, Ragazine, and many other venues. His novel, Gin Lane, was a semifinalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and his poetry collection, A Meditation on Fire, was published in 2016.