John William Kulm

       A SHOVEL


Just give me one thing:

A double-aught shovel,

as sophisticated as Roy Clark in a Calvin Klein ad

pickin’ and grinnin’ his way across the bare-blazing belly buttons of the anorexic too-cool-to-smile fashion toothpicks.

A shovel so fine I can feed the world

like a giant spoon scooping grain into the mouth of global consumerism.

Eat your vegetables you little complainer.

A shovel: The kind those hat-wearing line dancers on The Nashville Network scowl at.

Garth Brooks wannabes, whining,

"A cowboy doesn’t shovel dirt. I stay on my horse."

Stay on your horses then, singing your "git along little dogie" ditties.

I’ll be doing the work and, hey,

Do you think I believe Charlie Goodnight and Bill Picket sang sing-alongs around the campfire while they pulled sand burs off their saddle-sore buttockses?

A double-aught, heat tempered, made in the USA shovel:

Balanced so perfect I can throw it forty yards and sink its blade into a sod-covered ditch bank;

carry it along swinging it with the same intimacy

as a drill sergeant has for his rifle and his gun.

Not like one of your cheapo made-by-a-ten-cents-an-hour-third-world- nation-labor-force-multinational-corporation-shovel shovels.

Those two-for-ten-dollar backyard gardener shovels,

struggling against your grip as its screw-you-angled blade fights for dominance against your will.

A double-aught shovel like a halberd in the hands of a foot soldier peasant

cursing the knights in shining armor riding their class-conscious quarter horses.

Tell me to choose my weapon.

I choose a double-aught, heat tempered, made in the USA shovel

heavy enough to work with and light enough to dance with;

moving with you like part of your arm, body, heart and soul shovel.

A double-aught shovel tempered like a bell

ringing in the hands of a Protestant heretic Augustinian monk, shouting,

"The priesthood is for everyone. We are all priests of God."

God is not just speaking to the knights and the lords and the bishops and the pope.

God is in the dirt in the cracks of the hands of the worker who’s

holding a double-aught, heat tempered, made in the USA shovel.


Copyright © 2002 John William Kulm.  All Rights Reserved.

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