A Man’s World – by John Stupp

This is a man’s world someone said
as one by one they crowded onto the Red Line
the July sun beating their shoulders bronze
that’s all you could see for a minute
not like James Brown and not in words
for these Ironworkers were silent mostly
unlike the rest of us
with lean bodies tools for arms hard eyes
leather boots lunch coolers one a small Bible
they were sent to fix our city
with cranes and steel and torch and rivet
and walk miles above Pittsburgh where God begins
no matter what you or I might say
if they had opinions they kept them to themselves
they were not part of our world nor we of theirs
at the last stop
they stood on the platform
like friends off to war in the old history books
looking back at the country they left

John Stupp’s third poetry collection, Pawleys Island, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. His manuscript, Summer Job, won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and will be published in 2018 by Main Street Rag. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photographer’s Note: In this photo, I gather a sense of work ethic, dedication and teamwork. With no women present, it feels like a man’s world, for sure. The poem creates a similar visual of an “iron brigade”, soldiers of their craft. Strong, determined, stoic, disciplined – with a seriousness of duty and focus on completing their work’s mission no matter the cost. The question in my mind remains: Is this the life they chose or the one that chose them?