Thursday, September 23, 2010

Men at Work

Recently, I've been getting into some old-school 80s music, and it's surprising the hell out of me. I used to loathe the 80s even though I am a byproduct of it. But, I am coming to terms with the decade. Why not embrace it?

Well, Men at Work has caught my attention. There's just something about them that really makes me want to dance. And I hate dancing. But, on a similar parallel, the New Yorker published a poem called "Men at Work." Weird coincidence. So, here it is!

Men at Work

by Julie Bruck

I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
-"Down Under"

We middle-aged sense them immediately:
four brittle pop stars sprawled across
the rigid fiberglass chairs at the airport gate.
It's not just that they're Australian, that gorgeous
thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases
draped with black leather jackets, on their deep
tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto
that holds everyone's attention, drawn as we are,
pale filings into their pull. Even their rail-thin
lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly
Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket,
who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands
and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in
Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids,
and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto
next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes
will have abandoned our carry-ons for tickets
to a midsized arena and a ressurrected band
whose lyrics never did make sense but
which are laced to a beat that won't let go--
propelling us down the carpeted ramps
of late-night flights on feeder airlines, hips
back in charge of our strange young bodies,
now shaking down runways in rows.

I wonder if this was inspired by a true story that occurred to her in an airport or whether it was inspired by the song itself in which she invented this fictional story to paint the picture of how she sees this old band today. Yes, the lyrics aren't really memorable (more funny than deep), but the beat is killer! It does make me want to dance. I love how she constructs the sentences of her poem, carrying on for line after line--the emphasis drawn on the final word in each line. Excellent word choice. A story to hook you. Allusions to connect with. I love it!

What do you think of "Men at Work?"

1 comment:

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