Poem Hunter
Lunch Break Outside The Joseph Oat's Machine Shop
TG (March 18,1963 / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Lunch Break Outside The Joseph Oat's Machine Shop

On a pier right above the Delaware & adjacent to a factory,
a man takes a lunch break,
legs kicking absent-mindedly as he ponders
the number of holes he needs to drill through
thick steel plates. His green t-shirt with the pocket
left of center contrasts the white stucco wall,
streaked with rust run-off from the corrugated roof,
which shields him now from the work
on the inside. The work that will provide some
unknown man a million dollars this month. The work
that won America its cold war. The work
that made Wall Street bullish. The work
that tells him he needs an industrial revolution
to pay his mortgage and bowling dues.
A brackish river, which coils through Camden
and Philadelphia, transports barges
loaded with cooling towers
and heat exchangers for nuclear
power plants to places
far beyond the man’s imagination.
Not caring much about destination
he eats his tuna fish sandwich
and drinks his cherry coke – his legs kicking,
his jaws chewing, his green t-shirt absorbing
the sound of heat, the twist of steel
that coils & uncoils onto an oily floor.

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