Work (A Noun)
Old English: weorc, werc, wurc, wirc, worc, work: that which distinguishes the human from other primates

Let us start at the beginning. Come closer
and we’ll focus on a detail: two hands,
rough with bitten-down nails but agile, strong,
striking one stone against another; knapping.
Step back and see the whole man, in skins, squatting,
a ring of small children, thin dogs and beyond –
on the brow of this hill – earthworks and huts
and barefooted people carrying, sifting.
He stands. He weighs one flint in his hand, frowning,
then swinging his arm high he sends that stone
arching through the air to the trees below.
And it’s spinning still. Changing shape. Becoming
+++++ a knife, a pot, the wheel, the printing press,
+++++ railways, nuclear fission and the rule of law.


About the Poet:
This poem is from ‘The Human Hive’, a collection of poems by John Looker, which explores human nature by looking at people at work around the globe and down the ages. In the UK the book has been endorsed by the Poetry Library which took the volume into the UK’s national poetry collection.  It was published by Bennison Books in 2015 through Amazon (see ). John Looker lives in England and also publishes a blog: ‘Poetry from John Looker’ at

Photo by Stock Snap.

Poetry Breakfast accepts submissions of poetry and poetry related creative non-fiction year-round.  See our Submission Guidelines page for details on submitting your work.

Start your morning with a nourishing poem.  Follow us on  Twitter, Facebook, and  Tumblr,  and enjoy a new poem every morning straight to your feed.