It’s noon in Flint.
Somewhere within a black hole
known as a factory
choking workers listen for the shrill whistle
that releases them from the pit.
Someone wakes a sleeping worker
who lies drunk among pallets in the corner.
Someone else grabs a deck of cards
and heads for the lunchroom
where white bread, liverwurst and mayo sandwiches
are swallowed between puffs of cigarette smoke
and slurps of pop.
A few of the laborers go outside,crossing the crazed six lane highway
to douse themselves in lunch at the bar.
they go to Angelo’s Coney Island
where food is served in cardboard baskets
atop plastic plates.
Large jars of ketchup and mustard slide in their spillings
on dirty tables dressed with vinyl
and stains from coffee cups.
If you keep your eyes straight in the street
you won’t see the garbage wrapping itself around light poles
or clogging the drains in the gutters.
When it rains, the smoky dust turns to sludge
that sticks to your glasses, to your car, to your clothing,
slathering everything with a dull, sunless, stinky slate ash
that defies the most potent laundry soap,
that eventually smothers the trees, bushes
and your will to get up in the morning.
This town feels foul, like an unclean bathroom,
and sticky, like you’re trying to ice skate on flypaper.
But – if you go to Angelo’s and top your dog with enough chili and onions
you’ll maybe never notice the smelly afterbirth
of four wheeled motors
rolling off an assembly line.
poem © carole fults