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George Howard

Rookie (14.02.53 / Pontefract (Broken Bridge) , UK)


Day after day, week after week, all hours he toiled,
Hands often covered in carbuncles, clothes mostly soiled.
Walls were built, gardens, factories and houses all sold.
Flemish bond, Herring bone, works of art, if truth be told.
Over years built with flair, expertise second to none.
Professional throughout, no shoddy work would be done.
Early morning starts, up with the Lark and Jack,
Cajoling his labourer, ‘having the crack’
Starting the mixer, with a bump and a grind,
Warming up fuel lines, giving the handle a wind.
The mixer starting with melodious chugs.
‘The lad’ serving steaming tea in black stained mugs.
‘Setting up’ his corners, with deftness and skill.
The walls go up ‘forged’ by a man with an iron will.
The labourer looks on a wide smile on his face,
Proud to see the master at work, watching his relentless pace.
The job now finished, crisp and clean, in brick- red hue,
Every joint clean, horizontal, every corner vertical and true.
Now ‘Off to the ale house! ’ For more than just a couple,
The lad sitting in the corner, a future brickie, wiry and supple.
Transfixed with excitement, listening with abject glee.
Looking forward to the day, when he is ‘top of the tree’.
The tales flowing like the beer, of jobs long done.
Jokes told and ears pulled, and ‘bets’ rarely won.
Rolling out into the night, amidst back slapping and cheers.
The caterwauling and name calling and sideways jeers.
He stops and gazing up at the work of art he’d produced.
Thought about the man, to which he was now reduced.
Once proud, erect, with hands and fingers of iron.
A strong man, of character, one you could rely on,
To get the job done, on schedule, and with flair.
A fine piece of work done with precision and care.
Now shuffling about, bent and broken, friends not many,
Most gone on that journey, paying the ferryman his penny.
He invisible now, just an old man in the street, waiting out his days.
Not noticing the apprentice brickie, admiring the building with adoring gaze.

Dedi cated to my old mate Richard [Dick] Stringer an exceptional bricklayer
and character beyond compare. God rest his soul, he died recently sadly of a heart attack.
Goodnight my friend, the laughter you brought still echoes in the buildings you built.

Submitted: Friday, May 13, 2011
Edited: Saturday, May 14, 2011

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