Featured Poet: Walter E. Butts, Manchester
Walter E. Butts is the author of Sunday Evening at the Stardust Cafe`, which was chosen as a finalist for the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry and selected winner of the 2006 Iowa Source Poetry Book Prize, and Sunday Factory, a chapbook from Finishing Line Press (2006). The recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination, a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowship Award, and other honors, his poems appear frequently in such magazines as Atlanta Review, Cimarron Review, Mid-American Review , and Poetry East. He has taught in poetry workshops at the University of New Hampshire and for the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and is currently associate professor of English at Hesser College. He lives in Manchester, NH, where he co-edits the literary journal, Crying Sky: Poetry & Conversation.
“Sunday Factory” is from a recent sequence of poems around the themes of small town America and father/son relationships. I’ve become increasingly interested in how the past is restored in memory and imapcts on the present. Ironically, what’s remembered becomes the newly discovered. “Sunday Factory” is from a chapbook of the same title, from Finishing Line Press.
We walk the long street Sunday afternoon,
past the stone church, on our way
to visit his place of work.
This is the religion of father and son,
the faith of a boy who’s only five,
the factory a blessing of meat and bread,
the big machines still as statues,
an assembly of clocks
to mark the next week’s labor.
Here are the instruments of the makers,
their testaments of gears and wheels.
This is where men and women are called
to the daily stations of common task,
and so I stand with my father
in a child’s reverent silence.
Tomorrow, he’ll enter the loud,
humming chorus of his eight hour shift
to hose down the conveyor belts
so many times his forearms will ache
until they become light as air.
This is when he thinks of the boy
and his schoolbooks, remembers his wife
and her lilac corsage that morning they married.
And he makes what he can from each of these hours
that will, at last, take him home.
Copyright@2006 by W.E. Butts
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