Sunday, December 19, 2010

reminder during the holidays...

Will Work For Food
         ~J.J. McKenna

"Will work for food," says the sign,
and the man holding its crude letters aloft,
bearded, shabbily dressed, a crest
of belly breaking over the top of jeans,
seems properly pathetic enough.

Yet, you reach to adjust the stereo, 
roll the windows up, and lock the doors
all done by machines, all automatic enough.
"It's only a scam," you mutter to yourself.
And so it might be. It's hard to tell
from the shell of your middle class wealth.

J.J. McKenna has two poems--"Reflections on a Campfire" and "In This Air the Eye Travels"--in our recently released Moments of the Soul.


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading J.J. McKenna's "We'll Work for Food."
--What a profound reminder of the very essence of what makes us human and humane.

Phil's Forida Journal and Images said...

I heard J.J. McKenna read from his book of poems and was delighted by how accessible his work is in terms of vision, subject matter, and most especially, his original technique. His poems meditate on simple recognizable moments in life and presents them in remarkable, surprising images and perspectives. Your book of his poetry was a fine addition to my library.

Laura Johnson Dahlke said...

This is such a common experience and the poem truly captures the ethos of the situation. I particularly enjoy the concrete details that help vividly express the scene.

Reg Dyck said...

I like the way the sound works to create the tone and meaning of the poem. The first stanza almost seems to mock the man. In the second, however, the table is turned. The more matter of fact diction and a rhyme like tell/shell implicate us as readers. We've been there; the poem leaves the reader more exposed than the unemployed worker.

The Lettershaper said...


Anonymous said...

McKenna's "Will Work for Food" penetrates the reader and resonates for some time after with its hauntingly human message. The abstract leit motif of "enough" juxtaposed with the clearly detailed scene work to illuminate deeper a meaning--AG

diana christine said...

Hello everyone...thank you for your wonderful comments. I love Mr. McKenna's poem--I often find myself in the middle of discussions with people about the plight of the homeless. So many people argue with me that "if he is able to stand outside every day with a sign begging money, then he is able to go get a job..." (Goodness, I know many college graduates who can't find work, how much more difficult for someone without an address or a daily shower or with mental or physical disabilities?) This poem so gently and succinctly expresses my own response.
When I see a homeless person, I give thanks for the opportunity it is for me to be able give, even if I have only a dollar at hand.

diana christine said...

I'm so happy to read all your comments. Please forgive my delay...I was unaware that was holding comments for my verification. Once I discovered this, I was then in snowstorms and power outages that left me offline for some days. What a great treasure to hear from all of you.