Saturday, 09 January 2021 16:35

Why we talk about nothing but the weather

Written by
in Poetry
Why we talk about nothing but the weather

Why we talk about nothing but the weather

by Fred Voss

The welder is walking around the shop wearing a T-shirt covered
in decal-like images of red white and blue assault rifles
on other days he wears a T-shirt
with National Rifle Association
plastered across it
is he one of Trump’s Proud Boys
does he have an arsenal under his bed at home
through these decades working in machine shops I have heard machinists
debating and joking and worrying and whispering about whether
this or that guy with a wrench or a welding rod in his hand will walk in
one morning and pull
an assault rifle out from under his jacket
is this welder the one
who will really walk in one day
and start spraying bullets
I want to ask him
why do you wear the shirt
are you afraid
are you angry
did your father beat you and tie you to the bed and rape you for years
do you think Hitler was a hero
I want to tell him
I wish I had slid a rose into the gun barrel of a cop
in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park during the summer
of love
I want to tell him I’m a poet who writes poems
denouncing Trump
and ask him if he thinks that means I should be put
in a concentration camp
but when I walk over with my stack of steel sheets
I want him to weld together so I can machine them
I smile
and he smiles back and says, “Wuzz up?”
and I shrug and say, “They say it’s gonna to be 10 degrees hotter today,”
and the welder says, “Yeah, gonna be fuckin’ hot today. Want me to weld these?”
and I nod and he takes the stack of steel sheets out of my hand and I say thanks
and walk back to my machine
like Nazis never existed
and those assault rifles emblazoned across his back and chest
are beautiful American flags
so I don’t tell him what I really think and burst
into a rage

you just can’t really be yourself
and keep your job.

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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.