Friday, November 1, 2013

Opening Poem . . .

artwork: ralph murre

Opening Poem in a Still Unwritten Collection of Workplace Poetry
by Ed Werstein

Let me just start by saying
not to plagiarize
but more to pay homage
to the great Factory poet
that like the Continental Can presses
waited for Antler
the Briggs and Stratton machines
waited for me.

They waited while I altar-boyed and baseballed
farm-chored, catholic schooled and seminaried.
They waited while I anti-drafted and anti-warred
and when they saw their opening
they called me
to labor.

They hid their misery and enticed me
with a ticket to the union ball.

I don’t know whether to blame myself
or my muse for the fact that
the machines worked me over for 22 years
but, unlike his muse who led him
from the can presses dancing
and bleeding ink
after a few short months,
mine was hitting the snooze alarm
every god damned morning
while I got up and went to work.

And only now, long after I found my own way out of hell,
she (lazy bitch that she is) taps me
on the shoulder, points to the past and says
Oh, look at that!
Why didn’t we ever write about that stuff?

Well, go back to sleep, you Melpomene come lately
I can take this one solo
and if it turns out to be a rant untempered
by your flowery musings, so be it,
because factories ain’t pretty
and no one who’s never been there
knows the tedium and the pain
and you, for your part,
slept through it.

~ first published in WHO ARE WE THEN? (Partisan Press)