Saturday Night Overtime

Saturday Night Overtime

Rodney yells Rat, shoots nails
with a clamping gun
at a five-inch rat jumping
onto our rails. I drop my door,
bash after the rat with my mallet.
Five hundred rails cascade,
crush redwood panels. Rodney shoots
my feet and I’m dancing until the foreman
chews us out, his left eye flinching
like a turn signal. Between my earplugs
I hum Love it here, Love it here, don’t hear
a word the foreman says, his head
shaking like a souped-up Dodge.
I want to rob his pen, caricature
his chin on a panel. The tape
wound around his glasses is brown
as the chew in his teeth. He X’s
black ink across a work form,
points to it with fingernails
cracked like dried earth. Our foreman’s
so backlogged he can’t fire us.
Twenty minutes and the rails are stacked.
Rodney clamps, shoots me into dancing.
I’m gluing doors, watching the rat
jump on the glue bucket,
dance his Saturday dance.

John Davis
Skywater Publishing Company

Saturday Night Overtime
John Davis


what it means

A couple of guys working overtime on a Saturday night at a door factory goof around and find joy with each other even though they hate the job.

Blue collar work is about your buddies not what you are doing.  Blue collar work is like being a dancing rat under the threat of a nail gun.

Don’t just let things happen.  Notice and care about what’s going on.

why I like it

This book has three sections—rock and roll as a kid, working in the factory, rock and roll as an adult.  I love them all.  I love being taken into worlds I don’t know.

I believe the voice.  He knows his world so well and can share it without excuses.


In medias res. This poem drops you right into the middle of the story, at a high action moment, without any preamble.  Cool.

The similes and metaphors are just so perfect for this speaker.  Like a souped up Dodge, brown as the chew on his teeth.  They both open the poem and stay within its purview.

Find out more about John Davis at