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About this Poem 

“My current book contains a few poems set in a cement plant, but ‘Belt 7’ doesn’t appear with them because it wasn’t done in time and I thought I already had enough cement-plant poems in that book. The cement plant in these poems is based on a real one where my father worked for many years, and where I worked briefly, sometimes on Belt 7 (which my father says was called Belt 3 in real life).”
Joshua Mehigan

Belt 7

They stepped down into cool continual wind  
that smelled like wet rocks but caressed their faces.
The pit was dark. But even when the eye
adjusted there was nothing there to see.
All day the white hat stayed above somewhere.
There was no better place to spend July.
There was no happier thing that they could be.
They propped their shovels on the black earth wall 
and squatted on the curved necks, gingerly.

Then, leaning back, their heads below the strands
of bulbs like tarnished Christmas decorations, 
they plotted Friday night, or dogged each other,
or rested their bare heads on their bare hands;
played twenty questions, shared their blackjack systems,
or walked down deeper to relieve their bladders;
stamped chevrons in the dirt beneath their heels;
or weighed retirement and related matters;
or, hour after hour, cursed their job.

Copyright © 2014 by Joshua Mehigan. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Joshua Mehigan. Used with permission of the author.

Joshua Mehigan

Joshua Mehigan is the author of Accepting the Disaster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014). He works as an English teacher at the College of Staten Island, and as a workshop instructor for Brooklyn Poets. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.