Labor

by Neil Chopra

The style of this poem is inspired by Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.

Machine in place, serving our growing needs,
Can only tick when we all choose to steer;
The crimson tape that wraps around like weeds
Can never hide the face that hears our fears.

The bitter taste of other’s obligation
Can be erased with knowing sentiment;
With empathy from a lofty station,
Rules need not break, only slightly bend.

A hand extended for nothing in return
To lift a beginner, new and tender,
Breeds loyalty otherwise never earned;
Goodwill felt will always be remembered.

Influence fueled by setting examples,
No matter how high the ladder is climbed;
A leader’s name can never be trampled
When they are the first to suffer the grind.

Profit secondary to mass effect
Of words imbued with wisdom to inspire;
An audience filled with sincere respect
Outlasts those forced to become buyers.

Humbled in the chance to make a connection
And bring out the best in shared endeavors;
Dishonest dealings result in tension,
If not bridges burned and ties left severed.

Integrity beholden to no charm
Or inviting scent of nearby power;
Small doses give way to permanent harm,
A curse that lingers to the final hour.

Appetite only for finding the truth,
Whether it feeds frustration or calms it down;
All angles displayed so others conclude
Without needing to filter distorted sound.

Advice given to one you choose to serve,
Free from your own creeping ambition;
Respecting their trust in your candid words,
Bringing them closer to their true mission.

Willing hands, though green and unseasoned,
Should have a path to prove their faculty;
Eagerness to learn trumps any reason
That upfront requires such mastery.

Idle hands, when left untouched, do soften;
They can be coarsened with the sweat of brow;
Though entrance is quickened into the coffin,
The taste of strain leaves a smiling mouth.

When goal is reached, move on to further trials
Instead of idly waiting for applause;
Awards for feats may not be seen for miles;
If never seen, it still should give no pause.

Dignity of body and ease of mind
When value added to a yearning world;
A free handout given loses its shine
Compared to the luster of labor’s pearl.

The watering of seeds may be ignored
And shrugged away as a part of life;
But new life was raised, you yourself did pour
Love and wisdom that let it reach its height.

A dream replete with unshaken armor
Cannot be gambled on golden ticket;
Like a phoenix rising with more ardor
When crushed by fists of waiting critics.

Spotlight avoided so focus remains
On lifting standards with each new challenge;
Though approval welcomed, a starkly changed
Reputation will not hinder the balance.

Mind can wander to unmatched destiny
As long as work is finished and in place;
But if chance lets no one respect the deeds,
Dream’s catalyst still did quicken your pace.

Endless hours perfecting detailed craft,
Satisfaction only when breath escapes;
In glory’s eager face you turn and laugh,
Even death can’t shatter what you create.

Rhythm in motion, drenched in expertise,
Quality and quantity fused together;
The notion of losing one for pennies
Leaves masters looking like common peddlers.

Thoughts scribbled with fervor from teeming brain
Sound greater with one’s own conviction;
Intrepid voice refusing to be tamed,
Its power pulling more in to listen.

If artist achieves sought after vision,
It feels superior to all works before;
But perfect strokes seen through artist’s prism
Might be hidden to those who find it a chore.

Your greatest critic found in your own eye,
No work can seem to meet expectations;
The toil of others honored and held high,
Knowing the struggle they also were faced with.

Genius standing, naked and alone,
Given due time to seep slowly within;
Not afraid to welcome others who show
Their own work deserves a fair chance to win.

A timid demeanor witnessed at first,
Lifting the notice of no one nearby,
Transforms when talent does finally burst;
No challenge again can render them shy.

If audience judges from behind a shade,
Leaving performance’s source unknown,
Labor’s worth, once hidden, now is displayed:
No hindering bias left in tow.

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