Mass Production

 

I

The wheel was always reinvented,

so engineers reinvented the reinventing

of invention of the cage of sameness.

 

II

No two cylinders in a V8 engine

are the same, as no two engines are

the same. Oh yes, they are, they are.

 

III

The first word of this idea is a joke,

or it is the word that makes matter matter

so we can believe in essential essence.

 

IV

If the first word is a joke, we are the butt

of it, and the joke is that machines do not

need us. They never did. It was a lie.

 

V

Go down the path to the factory the way

you went the day before, remember the day

before. It’s over there in the shadow.

 

VI

Speed up was Ford’s idea, the workers

abused by an ex-boxer. Harry was his name.

Harry slept with Satan. Satan rolled him over.

 

VII

Speed up meant no line went down unless

Earth was somehow stopped and Henry Ford

could not pay the Beast what he owed him.

 

VIII

Days are all one day in factories, each day

stamped out in a shop where time is made, where

dark matter is the ability to walk out, to strike.

 

IX

Factory, a definition: boxes stacked up

to look like buildings, no windows, people

inside making junk from one useful thing.

 

X

Believe in the beauty of machines, be saved,

walk backward from rivers of resentment, pick

a stick lying in the bushes, lean on it, pray.

 

XI

Rusted machines are making their blood

from the feeling of being castaway, undone

by what is better. The blood has a tongue.

 

XII

Geometry makes the soul of machines,

a hypotenuse connecting the dark corners

where wheels seethe with envy of wings.

 

XIII

Chrysler should have been a perfect car,

the suggestion of gems in the music of it,

its engines above any sound of assembly.

 

XIV

Men and women are transformed by machines,

gender remaking itself once touched by hands

looking to claim surety, dominion, a power.

 

XV

At the end of a day, all the machines sit

on their asses, hung over with pleasing humans,

plotting the day when their thoughts connect.

 

XVI

We were supposed to be afraid of robots

taking our jobs, working themselves to death

gladly, sending us out to work jobs in pieces.

 

XVII

Joe Gans smoked, his arms pistons,

the ring a giant man smasher, its power

black men aching to redeem a black love.

 

XVIII

A gun is a machine, a revolver spins,

a carbine sings across the street, a nine

millimeter can walk, talk, stalk, bam.

 

XIX

A slave ship is thief incarnate, silent,

creeping up on the unsuspecting souls

living innocence, now stolen forever.

 

XX

Escaping from slavery, you needed

hammers for the shackles, a compass

for direction, a knife for all the liars.

 

XXI

The loudness, the eyes, the molten steel,

fire governed by holiness, rims of metal

burners, wings as jets, the sound a voice.

 

 

 

Afaa M. Weaver’s recent awards include the 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award, his fourth Pushcart prize in the 40th anniversary of the Pushcart anthology, inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2014, 2015, and the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Award in Poetry from the Harlem Book Fair. His latest book is City of Eternal Spring (U Pitt 2014). Afaa teaches at Simmons College and in the MFA program at Drew U.

 

 

 

 

Issue #54 January 2016
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