The Hyster battery is dead

again. You hook up the charger,

turn the dial to boost.

Better check the drip

buckets, snow on the roof,

the sun’s been blazing all morning.

The pack van’s loaded

with scrap cardboard

for a run to Pacific Recycling.

No windshield scraper,

but the heater works. Transmission

is iffy at best. Don’t ask

about the brakes or tires.

Remember to add oil,

throw your tool box in,

and roll down the windows

to vent the exhaust. Your slogan—

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.”

Like the ’64 Chevy

straight truck, holes in the floor,

or the ’68 Freight Liner

cab-over tractor

with Arm-strong steering,

this fleet was in condition

during Nixon’s second term.

The break room refrigerator

motor is burned up.

Better leave your lunch outside.

Paydays, after work,

drive your check to the bank

and pray they’ll give you the cash.

Have faith in the Hyster

battery. Don’t turn your back

on the hydraulic lines. Find

a reefer before spring thaw.

After noon you fire up

the Ford gas-tractor,

shovel rusty snow

off the worn flatbed.

Halfway to the mill,

you break down, again,

have to walk three miles

for a phone. Both fuel

tanks are full. Both

fuel pumps are shot.

You’re going nowhere

slow. Don’t watch the clock.

The overtime rate

(nursing mechanical death row)

helps lube your complacency.

You’re no gambler. Know that

tomorrow morning the sun

will rise, the drip buckets

will sing, and the goddamn Hyster

battery will die—your laughter

extolling the beauty of decay.

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