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The Carpenter

Rough leather and denim, with carpenters in ‘em,
And eight hours of know-how for sale.
Plumb bobs and levels, and common bevels
And hammers for drivin’ their nails.
Razor edge hatchets and wrenches with ratchets
And tools for impossible tasks.
Woodbutchers supply ‘em: yes, we have to buy ‘em
But nobody bothers to ask.

They look down their nose and they step on our toes
And they whip us with ten dollar bills.
Take a minute to rest while you’re catching your breath,
And they’ll give you a look that can kill.
They don’t care a damn, that you’re only a man,
Not a patented working machine.
But if you want to eat, you accept the defeat,
And keep nailing down somebody’s dream.

It’s feast or it's famine; I don’t understand ‘em.
They think that we’ve all got it made.
It’s stop and it’s hurry and in between worry,
Eat high on the hog and then beg.
Unwanted vacations and bad situations!
They’re part of the carpenter’s name.
It’s hard to conceive, anyone can believe,
That we’re ridin’ the old gravy train.

With elbows and knuckles and kneecaps and muscles,
We give ‘em the sweat they demand.
We bow and we skip to the ten dollar whip,
That they hold in their lilly white hands.
Through summer and winters, with blisters and splinters,
And fingers all battered and torn.
We’re out on the jobs with our thing-a-ma-bobs,
And, somehow, we weather the storms.

In mud a foot deep, or working concrete.
They always want more than you’ve got.
There’s no time for nursing, a body that’s hurtin’
And no time for watchin’ the clock.
On towering pitches or down in the ditches.
The routine is always the same.
Somebody is wailin’ and someone is nailin’
And somebody is prayin’ for rain.

No Johny-come lately!  Our titles are stately!
We proud of the carpenter’s mark.
Though they think we are spoiled, our History is royal,
More ancient than old Noah and his ark.
On the pages of time, thru the dust and the slime,
We’ve been changing the face of the earth.
When we’re covered with sod, we’ll be measured by God,
And He knows what a carpenter’s worth.

By Allen E. Johnston, Local 1752, Pomana California
(Good Job Allen)