Night shift poem by Ken Greenley

Painting by Ernest Fiene

night shift poem

Beams of the setting sun
awaken us into action
moonrise our call to arms
as shadows spread,
and darkness fills the window
We put on our uniforms
and our game faces
preparing for our nightlong struggles.

You, day people,
will never know our singular nocturnal existences,
our time-line diametrically opposed to yours;
as you settle into your couch
we contemplate our night-day ahead,
Waking thoughts creaking into motion
As your eyelids droop
we head to our stations,
Puddles of moonlight marking our way
as you drop off to sleep
we arrive,
Strolling in with a joke and a laugh
As your dreams begin
we pace empty skyscrapers, factory aisles
and wide warehouse floors
we do a hundred, a thousand jobs you’ll never see
a swarm of tasks taken for granted

As our solitudes and struggles,
arguments and actions continue
the outside world
plunges further into darkness

Ours is the chirp of cricket
the howl of dogs far away
the slither of slugs
and night-crawler worms
Bat radar and owl eye focus;
the beat of dark wing
and cloud drifting past full moon
the fog
the mist
and the smell of wet leaf,
also the tugboat’s hoot
the train whistle,
and faraway factory pulse;
We’re the hands on a clock
that won’t move forward
Our night shift passing glacier-slow.

Like an exhausted runner
struggling toward the finish line
We finally make it
all the way to the end.
into daylight
and the trip home,
eyelids drooping
muscles tingling
with the sweet buzz of staying up all night
Under cover of darkness we’ve performed our jobs
when you left in the evening the work wasn’t done
when you come back this morning it will be;
Our shift a magic wand we have waved.

Shuffling back home
we meet people going backwards
rushing to work
instead of coming back
Morning people
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaday dwellers
they head back to their stations
and we head back to our lairs;
two different breeds
like nightshade
to a morning glory
or a stealthy barn owl
to dawn’s busy chirpers

hidden army
slowly marching home,
a mirage turning back to a heat shimmer.

Clandestine workforce
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainvisible, we
hiding just behind the veil,
the hem of night’s cloak.

Ken Greenley February 4, 1958 – February 12, 2020 was a writer who lived in Denver, Colorado. The number of places he’s lived is only exceeded by the number of job’s he’s had. Greenley liked to explore the themes of class division (in a supposedly classless country), the struggle to stay spiritual in the modern world, and the growth episodes that occur in childhood. He thought art, particularly writing, should combat media brainwashing, and should examine the clash between what we’re told and what really happens. He tried to make his material as funny as possible, because he found it hard to make modern life seriously, and considered it his mission “to make people laugh and think at the same time.”

Much more on Ken Greenley can be found by clicking here… and here…

0 Replies to “Night shift poem by Ken Greenley”

  1. Ken, you’re writing poems that do what poems should do, leave the reader with something other than la la air. And you’re handling the material well.

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