Ode to a Hand Truck

This entry is part 5 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools


Eohippus of the truck family,
divergent offspring
of wheelbarrows,
what led the hand truck
to stand on its head
& press its nose to the ground?
What could it possibly
have learned from the worm
& the tons of dirt
that pass through
a worm’s stomach?
How to let fall, perhaps,
boneless as hope.
How to take its time.
Stack truck,
sack truck,
bag barrow,
it tips backward with alacrity,
trusting in vinyl grips
& ball bearings.
Its faith moves refrigerators.
Like a rowboat, it makes
its pilot also
face away from
the direction they’re going:
blind faith must be shared
in order to work.
The job over,
I return the hand truck
to its spot under
the barn forebay,
between the Ford dump truck
& the old wheelbarrow,
no longer red, on which
so little
now depends.

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  1. Oh, definitely my favorite so far of the tool odes. Loved this. “Its faith moves refrigerators” :->


  2. Such an amazing tool deserves such a lovely ode.

    And a nice little nod to WCW.


  3. Yes, I enjoyed this, too, for the particulars already mentioned. And the little song that pops up in the middle:
    Stack truck,
    sack truck,
    bag barrow,


  4. Thanks, y’all!

    For the less poetry-savvy, here’s a Wikipedia article on the iconic poem by William Carlos Williams echoed in the last lines.

    MB – And speaking of the Wikipedia, those synonyms came straight from the hand truck entry, such as it is. (I was concerned that my British readers might not know what I was talking about!)


  5. Yes to what the others say and also I’d like to put a word in for “boneless as hope.” That’s an interesting association of ideas.

    I’ll think of it, unfortunately, when I try again this afternoon to dodge the earthworms drowning on the sidewalk this wet April day.


  6. That’s an interesting association of ideas.”

    Thanks. A fairly free association, I must confess.

    Just last night I heard nightcrawlers for the first time since last fall. This always evokes mixed feelings, though, since virtually all our earthworms here in PA are exotic and invasive, and are changing soil chemistry and composition in fundamental ways, to the great detriment of native forest ecosystems.


  7. You heard nightcrawlers? Worms make noise?


  8. Love that WCW, it’s a favourite of mine, and it works very well here, and boneless as hope, that’s wonderful, awful, but wonderful.


  9. Yeah, I liked “its faith moves refrigerators” too. And the WCW reference. Can you call this an official “series” now?


  10. David – Oh hell yeah. They rustle about like crazy after dark, pulling pieces of leaf duff into their burrows. Whence of course the name “nightcrawler.”

    Jo, Dick – Thanks for reading, as always. I caught up on both your blogs this afternoon, but felt much too tactiturn to leave comments. Not too fair of me, was it?

    leslee – You can. I’m still wary about hexing myself.


  11. Ah-ha, it’s a diable! So called because it’s red with horns, yes really!

    These tool poems are so melancholy and clever.

    And even the worms are bad news then?


  12. Good one, Dave!
    “How to let fall, perhaps
    boneless as hope.”
    was the passage which caught my fancy.
    But what was this strange device?

    I puzzled over ‘hand truck’
    First I thought it was a toy
    Then, perhaps a wheely barrow
    Pushed nose down. Quite shy and coy
    But the walking backwards passage
    Blew that image all to heck
    Cause I’ve tried that with a barrow
    And I wove a wavy trek
    So I accessed Wikipedia
    And why there it was, by golly
    It’s a super leverage buy
    Out round these parts
    It’s called a “dolly.”


  13. Lucy – “Diable”? Is that French, or British?

    Yeah, worms are bad here — at least in forests. Agriculture is of course a different stroy.

    Joan – Darn, I didn’t know that there were even parts of the U.S. where people wouldn’t know what a hand truck is. To me, a dolly is something with four wheels, but I see the American Heritage Dictionary does include hand truck as one of the definitions:

    a. A low mobile platform that rolls on casters, used for transporting heavy loads.
    b. Such a platform as used by one working underneath a motor vehicle.
    c. A hand truck.


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