of poetry & pottery

To Be Of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

by Marge Piercy



Gary's third pottery blog said...

OH! I hope david will make more :)

J Cosmo Newbery said...

I do love it when you talk dirty.

Percy Bisque Silley said...



PS: They say that Womanly anger oft' masks a deeper passion...


soubriquet said...

My philosophy entirely....
Living in a city that once took pride in its ability to make things, smelting, forging, hewing and weaving, yet now home to call-centres, and other forms of pretend-work.
Those wielders of the keyboard, proud keystrokers of the blackberry, what would their ancestors think of them, soft-handed drones?
high in the Andes, you'll see rusting steam locomotives, built here, in australia, you'll see our trains, our pumps, in america, our excavators and cranes, all over the world, that name, "Leeds" on cast and forged steel, printing presses, boilers, turbines... Tomorrow? what trace will the keyboard tappers leave?

Oh. And tomorrow, yes, I'll be doing real work, bolting steelwork and shifting concrete.

red dirt girl said...

Gary - I do hope David will make more, as well!! He's a most excellent potter.

Does this mean you'd be up for some barnyard mud wrestling ?? The chickens run the ring every Friday night .....

Sir Percy,
angry? who's angry ?? i'm a pacifist. peace. man. xxx


You rightly tap into the beauty of this poem. And I appreciate the beauty of the work of your hands ..... now fire up that kiln, sweetie! xxxxx!


Percy Bisque Silley said...


red dirt girl said...

Sir Percy,

oops! my masked passion is showing .... xxx!

Chikkin "X" said...

The Chikkins is restless...
Mud wrasslin' evry fridy, we's bettin' on the mule, checkin out her fetlockses, wooo-eeeee!!!!!

goatman said...

I once worked for a lady who said that I did not "dilly-dally". I was quite proud of that!

red dirt girl said...

Chikkin X of far flung travels! Sounds like you've got 'spring fever.' You tell those chikkins to keep their eyes on the till and off of my fetlockses ....;) xxxxx

Goatman - dilly-dally is such a great word! There's a definite pleasure to be had in a job well-done.


soubriquet said...

On Dillying and Dallying:

We had to move away
'Cos the rent we couldn't pay.
The moving van came round just after dark.
There was me and my old man,
Shoving things inside the van,
Which we'd often done before, let me remark.
We packed all that could be packed
In the van, and that's a fact.
And we got inside all that we could get inside.
Then we packed all we could pack
On the tailboard at the back,
Till there wasn't any room for me to ride.

My old man said: "Foller the van,
And don't dilly-dally on the way".
Off went the van wiv me 'ome packed in it.
I walked be'ind wiv me old cock linnet.
But I dillied and dallied,
Dallied and dillied;
Lost me way and don't know where to roam.
And you can't trust a "Special"
Like the old-time copper
When you can't find your way home.

I gave a helping hand
With the marble wash hand-stand,
And straight, we wasn't getting on so bad.
All at once, the car-man bloke
Had an accident and broke,
Well, the nicest bit of china that we had.
You'll understand, of course,
I was cross about the loss.
Same as any other human woman would.
But I soon got over that,
What with "two out" and a chat,
'Cos it's little things like that what does you good.

Oh! I'm in such a mess.
I don't know the new address -
Don't even know the blessed neighbourhood.
And I feel as if I might
Have to stay out here all night.
And that ain't a goin' to do me any good.
I don't make no complaint
But I'm coming over faint,
What I want now's a good substantial feed,
And I sort 'o kind 'o feel,
If I don't soon have a meal,
I shall have to rob the linnet of its seed!

goatman said...

GREAT, I love it. Of whom is the origin?