Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Day 8

Thursdays are going to be brutal for me in getting this done this month, mostly because I have such a long workday, and fitting a poem into an already taxing schedule is rough. Today’s challenge was to write a poem about a tool, and while I admit I was considering making a joke of it, a la Tool Academy, I decided to riff off of Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” instead. This is far from done, and I’m not even sure that I’ll stick with it–I’ve already come up with another way of approaching this poem, but I’m too wiped to anything other than take notes for it. Still, here’s one take on it. Hope you like it.


My father didn’t scatter potatoes
levered out of the ground with a spade
and Granddad never cut turf
on Toner’s Bog–he played fiddle
and drank beer in honky-tonks
from Helotes to Clute. Didn’t need
a shovel to follow men like them.
Or a pen. But like Seamus,
that’s what I picked up, tho’ now
it’s a keyboard and glowing screen.
Progress. I tried to be the elder
my father was, faithful, passionate
even after his memory left him,
and the rogue his father was,
whiskey nights and whisker kisses,
moving from house to house
dragging family farm to farm.
Never made either work for me,
though I love the unseen like Dad
and get itchy for a new house
every couple of years–moderation
isn’t so bad in these things.
But other times you have to break
with the past, create new forms,
new ways of digging into packed soil.


April 8, 2010 - Posted by | National Poetry Month, original poetry, Poetic Asides |

1 Comment »

  1. I’ve read a couple of your pieces, and one of the things I really like about your work is how strongly you finish — in this case, “new ways of digging into packed soil.” Excellent.

    Comment by Matt Blair | April 9, 2010 | Reply

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