Observe now the old world of men, a world built for our shoes to make tracks in, a grunting groaning smoking world of square jaws and squinty eyes, watery and bright and flashing fierce, knowing courage and cowardice, secret fears stuffed deep in back-pockets and never taken out.
Men who growl dog-like with knotted hands gripping axes, ropes, sandpaper fingers brandishing knives, hoping to succeed, praying not to fail, following leaders and leading followers. Solid stoic gritty men. Roughnecks, farmers, soldiers, sailors and cooks, fathers of fathers and sons of sons, living descendants of John Henry and Paul Bunyan. Men drinking black coffee, stirring beans and bacon, rummaging through rucksacks for reminders of love lost or left behind. Men like oxen with broad unbreakable backs, sinewy thighs rippling beneath crude bandages, brows furrowed, bent to the work at hand, out in the fields, the woods, the mines, on oil rigs, at sea, in kitchens, thinking about what’s at stake, knowing how much is on the line.
Oozing sweat and smoke, grease grime sludge and mud, clothing stained with booze and blood. Gutted on the courthouse steps. Every time I get a new white shirt, some son-of-a-bitch wants to fight.