by Eric Chaet
Tom’s been on the job 3 months, still smiles, can’t shut up about precision with which he runs machines.
Klem was born in Lithuania, Germans cut off his military schooling, & gave him choice to work or fight for Germany, labored in Lithuania, Brazil & Argentina, for railroad in Pennsylvania, speaks 6 languages, looks like T.S. Eliot with muscles, wife may be dying of swollen neck glands in hospital, where doctor don’t promise nothing, & they rob you in broad day.
Israelis chased Abe the Arab from his home, he had 22 date trees 6 miles west of Jerusalem, he crawls into machine whenever it malfunctions & quickly fixes it, thinking about divorcing his pregnant wife who believes he is having an affair with her cousin, & shows me every consideration—he says Shalom, I say Salaam—when I make boxes for him, demonstrating with hands each shorn a finger to second digit.
Harris speaks only to black men, only snaps at me when has to, gray specter tinctured dark brown.
Sam thinks being Polish is a joke on him, smiles in round layers of fat, reaching across circle to grab hot plastic with cotton gloves, setting up huge 18 below.
Groundhog Benson banged his head & opened pouring hole, blinked twice, & said 2 shots would fill it, followed by 2 beers.
Ken eats candy bars & swells noiselessly over rebelling nerves.
James Lee Johnson’s a giant black youth once walked from Wisconsin 31 cents in pocket, to find he’d lost a job, too tired this last month to lift weights at home.
Woody says he has 3 years of law school & is worth $165,000, housepainter 37 years, retired & took this job to not relax, can’t keep hands off me trying to demonstrate quick cuts of razor thru thick film among jerking oily rotations.
Pete’s wife of 19 years left him to run away with motorcycle gang, now brags of his lover met in tavern & callousness to wife, broke-hearted, fading white smoke, foreman, disappearing before my eyes.
Warrior Mike, West Side gang Aristocrats, hit Puerto Rican kids with baseball bats, 3 years combat Vietnam stoned all time, loves to fight, wanna fight, motherfucker? we drink some beers 63rd & Cicero, mornings, driving home.
#1484, shift 3-D, midnight till morning, polyethylene division, Chicago plant, earning some money, I quit.
Polyethylene formula: Wikimedia