The Roughneck’s Labors


He remembered the years of oil:
running pipe and chain, clasp and spin
across ice-bound derrick slicks;
hooked galleons of stained oblivion,
great lengths of steel heaved
out of a dark pit of silted earth;
men who wore grease like a badge,
suffered sleepless nights, rhythmically
pushing or pulling the hole, seeking
under the dead sea-bed below a sign –
the pitch and blend, salty exuberance;
long soaked, sweat tanged bodies;
up and down, slipping mud, sipping
salted taps of ancient oceans;
waiting for the call, a merciless flood:
rising, expanding, blowing the roof-
stench jacket to kingdom-come
and back till the primed loafer crawls
the jet-lined tube to extreme fire;
those jetted plumes, plants and dinosaurs,
resurrections pyre – fluid to flame:
out of their invisible lairs, carbon junkies
reading the tapes, moment accosting,
tampering against the cold and deeds
of steeled awareness, pain resolvers,
prided interlopers of the hell-bound heart.
Such men as these dug deep down clean,
brought forth good earth riches, black gold;
blend and mold, rigged accomplices
quick to fight, yet lovers all; whiskey
men flotilla bound, gifted with sublime
disgust only an explosion calms:
pop the cork, blast the cap; spew and gush
old glory till she shines all night, flamed and tapped.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: Many may or may not know I grew up on Odessa in West Texas during the heyday of the Oil boom era of the 50’s. I worked alongside my Great-Grandpa, Grandpa, Uncles, cousins, etc. for years in the various aspects of the oil business. Knew it first hand. Men who worked hard and played hard. A forgotten era… yet, the same kind of men that worked the derricks then still do it around the world. To these working men I dedicate this one.

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