Callow captains

Their calloused hands are captains of countless chores
Their indurate thorn-punctured palms are invaded by infectious sores
The once-delicate soles of their feet are charred by the sun-baked soil
As bare-footed in the rich man’s gardens, and grazing fields, and quarries, they toil.

Each rock and stone along the paths, on the roads, and in every trail knows
The almost-constant, never-ceasing enquiries of their jiggered toes
Their faces are scarred by the stormy gales and the scorching suns
And their skins are exfoliating for labouring in warehouses with no cooling fans.

Like animatronics they work till the sound of the stop-time trumpet
The girls’ chests are flat, and the boys’ chins bare, yet
The mechanic expertly does the nuts and bolts – tight and strong
The carpenter measures and saws the joist, as it should be – wide, or long.

The mason shapes, lifts, shifts, fits, and fixes the corner-stone
The minor miner digs, picks, cuts, grades the most precious stone
The pickers pick the coffee, or tealeaves, even hemp to the fills of their baskets
The tailors measure, cut, fold, stitch, and button the finished jackets.

The soldiers stalk, surround, and ambuscade the enemy, attack, and retreat
The hucksters announce, peddle door-to-door, and flaunt their wares in the street
They can also cook, nurse, and guard, and strumpet, kill and dig graves
They are not Jacks-of-all-trades; they are child slaves!