New hires, new boots, new contract every four years, Buck holding a 10 lb. steel skimmer, scalding the mustache from Viking's scabby face. Metal on metal, machinery cranking and pounding, hammering out the bolts, turning company scum, telling you to do it, or don't, McDonald's is hiring, the smell of burning clothes, singeing knuckles, copper thieves hiding in the orchards, twisting crane cables. Don't touch the block. Don't close the damper. Don't run the voltage down. When everything goes open circuit, melting shields, let it all smelter with the carbon exploding in the channel. Forget the wall switch. Unhook the air gun's rubber hose, breathing dead air in the courtyard, holding the tapping list, holdover list, day-off list, re-tap list, re-sets, revolver cocked in the mouth of a cheater, violating restraining orders, shared custody rights, swing shift, night shift, day drunk, shapeshifting your weight off the bad knee, bad hip, bungled shoulder, thirteen arm pins, broken tarsal, to the good side, good eye, good morning, Uncle Al, go fuck yourself. Going broke with a job, flying to Reno on a long weekend, Jack Deuce, all in, this ain't your daddy's farm, non-random drug tests, two-days pending, emergency surgery, watching metal being syphoned, all silvering, translucent, upside down, hanging by a phantom limb forever, the taste of iron inside my mouth.
Zachary Eddy is a former aluminum worker. His work has been published in High Desert Journal, The Comet Magazine, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. His poem Before the Closure, Before I Quit was nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net anthology. He teaches English composition at Wenatchee Valley College.