The casket factory

Among the jobs after high school/during college
while Vietnam loomed
Chicago raged
Detroit burned
Sgt. Pepper played
The Doors perceptively and Arthur Brown
crazily fired our imaginations
were golf-course lawns
and cemeteries to mow
boxes of motor oil to toss
out of steaming semis
chickens to gut and gizzards to clean
and the casket factory

Every night on each of the three
TV channels our black and white
set received we watched
as soldiers and sailors and fliers
returned to a land that seemed to them
more foreign than the mud
and rice fields
they left behind
But the ones I saw
most clearly were those
who were destined for my creations
wood and metal homes
padded and shirred
braided and lacquered
polished to that highest of sheens
to honor a lie

Every day they came back
and every day I worked on
boxes to hold the dreams of
sons and daughters
fathers and mothers
uncles and aunts
We were just happy
they were not us
Twenty-four hours each day
we sawed and cut and welded
sewed and painted
those eternal homes
and believed (hoped) that someday
there might be an end
to the casket factory

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