I knew an old man once who’d been around,
Who was young, once, and strong and made things.
He worked on the railroad, laying rails and timber
Until a machine came along that could do it faster.
Then he worked in a factory that made cars.
He stood in one spot and hung doors on Fords,
Just the passenger side for a week. Then the other side for a week.
And he started to dream about Ford doors chasing him,
But it put food on the table and sent two kids to college.
So he ignored the dreams, until the robots could
Hang the doors, and do it faster.
By then he was too old to work like he’d always done,
So he went home and made things for his grandkids in the basement,
But it wasn’t the same as swinging the sledge, driving spikes, laying track;
Not the same as hanging the doors on Fords, even, because
He felt he’d made something and the factory felt important, and was valuable.
The people who made the robots, and the suits who ran the factories,
Seemed glad to get rid of people like him, and just threw him away.
His dreams now are about things that blow away,
About how things change but are never about the people
Like him, who knew, once, how to build things.