Hot Tar Roofing
by Martin Walls

Roofers gathered around a butane furnace at dawn.

It is cold. Rained all night. One holds steaming Styrofoam coffee, one stirs

The thick muck with a chestnut roaster tied to a broom handle that's pitch-black
& dripping with wretched snot,

Hauls up blasted-to-bits-skull-shaped nuggets of bitumen & dumps them on
a stained tarpaulin

While another adjusts the hose that's flung to the flat roof of the new school on
which other men stand ready with coagulated mops.

See them through blue smoke in a blue light & a stench as if they've tapped a
vent to hell.

Their orange jackets, their work jeans, leather gloves, & rubber boots spattered as
if they had walked through hell to get here.

The sons of these men are fighting for this oil in a foreign land.

Bring them home so they can study in this school. Better yet, so they can build it.

Their fathers are too old for this, stirring the sticky pot with slow strokes,
coughing & spitting, belching fearfully.

Tell their sons to come home. We'll melt down their bullets & line the roof in

If you've been moved by this unjust war to write a poem, please consider submitting by email to, or mail to SPC. Work on themes of war, the war economy, oppression and political injustice, and/or which celebrates more positive hopes and visions, will be considered.















Martin, of Solvay, NY, is a Witter Bynner Poetry Fellow of the Library of Congress. His second collection of poems-Commonwealth-is available from March Street Press.