Industrial Poem

That night, Slim Abernathy
pushed the wrong button and wrapped his friend
three times around a drive-shaft
in directions the bones won’t bend.

They shut her down and eased him out
broken most ways a man can break
yet he clung to his ruin for twenty-four hours
like a man to a life-raft for his death’s sake.

But they’d hardly hurried him away from there
as we stood around shockdrunk, incapable of help
when they cranked those expensive wheels up again
and started rolling more goddamn pulp.

“Hamburger for lunch tonight, boys!”
joked a foreman to the crew.
I wished he’d smelled our hate but he never even flinched
as the red-flecked sheets came through.

:: Peter Trower, in Going for Coffee (1981)

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