Carrying My Tools


Any good craftsman carries his tools.
Years ago, they were always at the ready.
In the car. In a knapsack.
Claw hammers, crisscrossed heads,
32 ouncers. Wrenches in all sizes,
sometimes with oil caked on the teeth.
Screwdrivers, with multicolored
plastic handles
(what needed screwing got screwed).
I had specialty types: Allen wrenches,
torpedo levels, taps and dies.
A trusty tape measure.
Maybe a chalk line.
Millwrights also carried dial indicators,
micrometers–the precision kind.
They were cherished like a fine car,
a bottle of rare wine,
or a moment of truth.
I believed that anyone could survive
without friends, without the comfort of blankets
or even a main squeeze
(for a short while anyway).
But without tools . . . now there was hard times.
Without tools, what kind of person could I be?
The tools were my ticket to new places.
I often met other travelers, their tools in tow,
and I'd say: "Go ahead, take my stereo and TV.
Take my car. Take my toys of leisure.
Just leave the tools."
Nowadays, I don't haul these mechanical implements.
But I still make sure to carry the tools
of my trade: Words and ideas,
the kind no one can take away.
So there may not be any work today,
but when there is, I'll be ready.
I got my tools.


Luis J. Rodriguez, The Concrete River, Curbstone Press, 1995.