Tuesday, 11 April 2023 09:06

Beer Foam Resurrection and The Job I Don't Get Paid For: two poems by Fred Voss

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Beer Foam Resurrection and The Job I Don't Get Paid For: two poems by Fred Voss

The Job I Don't Get Paid For

by Fred Voss

The machine shop manager
is taking the new-hire around the shop showing him the machines
and their operators
“This is Fred,” he says
as the new-hire shakes my hand
“Fred is the quietest guy in the shop
He just does his job
He doesn’t get involved in all that DRAMA!”
and I smile
as the new-hire and I show each other how strong our grips are
then end our handshake
and the manager leads the new-hire down the aisle toward a 2-ton drop hammer operator
in a straw hat
well, it’s true
every man on these machines would agree I’m the quietest guy in the shop
I don’t walk up to people
and ask them if they believe in God
or Trump
or sex-change operations or dual exhaust or a man getting close to his pet tarantula
I don’t gossip about long or short dongs or bad toupees
or karate blackbelts with little man complexes
I don’t take advantage of a man being a captive audience on the next machine
by talking his ears off or have fun by provoking men into losing their tempers
by needling their weak spots all day
but inside
as I turn machine handles and tighten steel clamps and wipe coolant and grease
off my hands with a green shop rag
I am putting all the drama
on these pages
working 2 jobs at once
one I get paid for
and one that may let me live on
when my bones lie underground
I don’t think the manager would mind too much
if he read the bit of drama on this page
I hear on weekends he plays a squeezebox
in a mariachi band in a gazebo
on Cesar Chavez Avenue in East L.A.
after all
a man cannot live by bread
and machines
alone.

Beer Foam Resurrection

by Fred Voss

On Friday mornings
we machinists filing in through the tin door to punch in
and pick up a wrench smile and say,
“Happy Friday!”
to each other instead of
“Good morning!”
because the last day of the workweek when we are finally set free
for the weekend
is truly good
no matter whether the sun is shining or the sky is full of rain and lightning
but on every other Friday
the Friday when we get paid
we yell,
“It’s GOOD FRIDAY!”
to each other and smile extra big smiles when we file through the door
because when we are set free at the end of that day Friday
we will have a paycheck in our pocket
Good Friday
may mean the day Christ died and redeemed all our sins
by rising again on the third day
to the church-going machinists in our shop
but even the most pious Christian in the shop
with stinking black grease and razor-sharp steel chips all over his hands
must have some doubt deep in his heart about Christ really rising
from the dead and saving us all
in this age of machines and science
and as he stands at his machine with his bones sore from 50 or 60 hours of work
the paycheck in a machinist’s pocket as he gets to finally walk out the tin door
makes it a true Good Friday
true as nuts and bolts
and hammer blows loud as gunshots screaming spines
and steel harder than rock carved down to micrometer-measured
thousandth-of-an-inch blueprint specification true
as heart attack or Marilyn Monroe’s legs or the first foam blown off a beer
in a Good Friday evening bar
and instead of a cross or a picture of Jesus taped to our toolboxes most of us machinists
have a red or blue star
penned into the squares on our calendars marking payday Good Fridays
when we wash the stink of the oil and grease of this all-too-real world off our hands
and stride out the tin door
in our religion
of rebirth
hooting and whooping and back-slapping and grinning
as we climb into our cars or onto our motorcycles
having earned our resurrection
with 10,000 grunts and a million aches
as our hearts fill with a joy
that is truly
holy.

Read 781 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 April 2023 09:14
Fred Voss

Fred Voss, a machinist for 35 years, has had three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, and two by Culture Matters: The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, and Robots Have No Bones.