Friday, 21 August 2020 08:49

Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues

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in Poetry
Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues

Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort and screamed the blues

by Fred Voss

“We’ve got to wear these fricking masks!”
says our new supervisor
to us machinists and de-burrers and shipping clerks and punch press operators gathered
around him on the shop floor for the special coronavirus
pandemic meeting he has called
to tell us we must all wear our sanitary masks at all times
he says “fricking”
instead of “fucking”
because long since the days when he was a hippie
and said “fucking” in every other sentence
he quit drugs
and drinking and blasting iconoclastic long-haired-hippie rock music and joined
a fundamentalist Christian church
and started saying “fricking” instead of “fucking”
sounds earthy and solid and true and sexy and noble
as an elephant trumpeting
a steamroller rolling
a hula dancer swaying her hips under a Waikiki palm tree
Freud uncovering a repressed memory
Joe Louis landing a k.o. punch to Max Schmeling’s Nazi jaw
sounds like something that would make Jimi Hendrix
unplug his electric guitar
Romeo forget Juliet Harry Houdini
resign himself to handcuffs Valentino take off his tango shoes Jim Morrison
put on a hair shirt
and the supervisor finishes by telling us to all wear our masks at all times and stay
in good health and then shouts,
“Alright! Let’s all get back to fricking work!”
would Paul Bunyan
have said “fricking”
would that speeding locomotive driver Casey Jones would Jack Dempsey Pablo Picasso
Janis Joplin never belted Southern Comfort bourbon and screamed the blues
Lead Belly never split a chain-gang boulder with a sledgehammer
and we machinists and shipping clerks and de-burrers and punch press operators
file back toward our machines
as all the air goes out of all the balloons
on earth

Something like a pandemic that’s a matter of global life and death
ought to at least make men give
a fuck.

Read 1490 times Last modified on Friday, 21 August 2020 08:59
Fred Voss

Fred Voss, a machinist for 35 years, has had three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, and two by Culture Matters: The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand, and Robots Have No Bones.

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