8 Days Remaining
Fred Voss

Thursday 23rd
posted by Jody Porter in Arts

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter

A Creed that Cracks Loose Nuts and Bolts
Fred Voss

we say as we pass each other in the aisles between our machines
“Right on!” we say as we walk up to each other’s machines and watch
their spindles turn and their cutters plow and slice
through steel
and we flex biceps and knock fists together as the planet Jupiter rotates
in the sky like it always has
we are going on
like waterfalls and postmen delivering letters and pelicans diving for fish
“We’re getting there!”
we say each day as the time clock ticks
and we pace in front of our machine flashing big thumbs-up signs at each other
our machines’ worm screws turning automatically our fists on wrenches cracking loose
nuts and bolts our feet
in steel-toed shoes planted solid as Rock of Gibraltar
on concrete floor our jaws
stuck out like big Paul Bunyan with legs spread and axe
in fist
“Okay!” “Right on!”
we’re going on
with hammers and wrenches like 18-wheeler trucks rolling through mile-long tunnels at midnight
Mark Twain steering his steamboat down the Mississippi
Mohammed Ali
taking off his gloves and facing prison
whatever comes
bad boss broken bearing cut wage heart attack slipped disk layoff divorce
we will be there at our machine
like Halley’s Comet coming back like clockwork to burn brightly above men’s heads
again and men
walking down into purple Carlsbad Caverns to drop their jaws
in awe
“Alright!” “Okay!” “Yeah!”
our Bible our creed because
come earthquake atom bomb
or pretty spring day we men
must go on.



A machinist in Southern California machine shops for 38 years, Fred Voss has had three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, the latest of which, Hammers and Hearts of the Gods, was selected a Book of the Year 2009 by The Morning Star. In 2016 he won the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach Labor Coalition’s Joe Hill Labor Poetry Award, and his latest book, The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, is published by Culture Matters with a foreword by Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union.

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