“Tools of the Trade” by Bruce McRae


It’s what I lean on
in the heat of day.
The goon spoon.
The old banjo,
it’s what I play
and who I am –-
a mover of things:
coal, earth, snow,
nothing shall remain as is.
How else do I make
a hole and fill it?
What other way
can the gravedigger
marry the dead?


Without a doubt
a ladder goes both up and down.
Most certainly,
a ladder takes us and all
to where we’re going:
web-riddled attics;
highest deadwood;
unwashed windows.
Absolutely, dear customer,
you can climb
the hatchways into heaven
or cellars of hell.
Wherever you most desire.
However you’re destined.


I’ve never seen
what the saw has seen.
I’ve never spoke aloud
its secret name
or passed a comment
on its toothy grin.

O bloodless tragedy,
I’ve never cut off
the heads of dolls
in a cold sweat.
There is no tree
I haven’t considered
cutting down
to the ground.
No forest offends me.


This is no ordinary mop, my starlings.
This is a wand for warding away evil.
It’s a thin man in search of his head.
This is how we divine for well water.

Not just a mop, a consolation prize
in a contest no rational mind would contemplate.
A lever in a mechanical heaven.
A stick you heave at the darkness.

A mop, if only to the unschooled eye.
It’s possibly the last oak on the planet.
It’s the one I love. A comely dancer,
wherever I lead she reluctantly follows.


The hammer doesn’t know it’s a hammer.
The hammer has never heard it’s been said
‘every tool is a possible weapon’.
Round nails. Brain pans. Piano wire.
It’s much the same when you’re a hammer.
Gallows. Mansions. A tall ship’s decking.
A hammer doesn’t weigh up potential
or adjudge the concerns of carpenters.
It’s we who make things and take things apart.
That’s our blood that holds us together.




Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,600 poems published internationally in magazines such as PoetryRattle and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press); Like As If (Pski’s Porch); Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

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