Wednesday, 25 November 2020 09:50

Naked under 10,000-watt lightbulbs

Written by
in Poetry
Naked under 10,000-watt lightbulbs

Naked under 10,000-watt lightbulbs

by Fred Voss

We machinists
are lucky to have our machines
machine handles we can grab when we are lonely green steel machine sides we can hide behind
when we feel guilty or ashamed
steel machine tables we can drop 100-pound machinist vises onto and green steel machine heads
we can pound with hammers knowing the machines
will never complain
or not be there the next morning bolted to the concrete floor in front of us
we can confess crimes
or lose our minds and scream or cry in front of our machines and they will tell
no one
the supervisors
have no machines to hide behind
or talk to
they come out of offices and stand on the shop floor as if
they are naked
under 10,000-watt lightbulbs
feeling like we are all craning our necks peering around our machines staring
at them and laughing inside
no handle
or hammer to grab no aircraft spar to cut or landing gear to bore
a hole through no workbench covered with nuts and bolts
to sit at or cutting oil
to wipe off their fingers with a green shop rag no barrel
of a micrometer to spin with their knuckles no muscle
to flex like Rocky Marciano after wrestling a 100-pound lathe chuck
up onto an engine lathe
guilty frowns creeping across their faces
the supervisors try to look strong and tough and useful by balling their fists up
like championship boxers
or racing around the concrete floor like Olympic
power walkers
but we machinists sense that somehow inside they feel useless and foolish
looking over our shoulders and giving us orders
sometimes they even stop
at a vacant machine and stare at its handles and grab them and turn them and smile
for a minute like little boys
pretending to be real machinists
we feel sorry for them
in their spotlessly clean white shirts carrying clipboards
and gripping pencils
and looking lost as the machines cut and pound and grind

not everyone can make this world out of steel and titanium like we can
with our bare hands
some just have to watch
and act like we could never do it
without them.


Read 2111 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 10:51
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.