Archives for posts with tag: Midwest

paper mill
Boxboard
by Bruce Louis Dodson

Temp job:
Alton Box Board
paper mill
along the Mississippi River
near Sr. Louis.

Paper spurts from great steel-grey machines that press it
into rolls not unlike toilet paper
but humongous
fifteen-foot diameter
twenty-six wide
spins on glittering steel shaft.

Trimmers each end cut off rough edges
take an inch or so from paper still too hot to touch
after a final pressing to desired thickness
stream of white spaghetti paper shavings
drop into a square hole in the concrete floor.

My job below.
There is a moat
a steel canal of flowing paper mush
like oatmeal—bleached
this hot pulp river
flows through whirling bladed shredders
then around to meet them once again.

When trimming starts above
an endless white snake
slithers through the hole
at high speed
piles up fast.
I have to hustle or get buried in it
grabbing armfuls
dropping them into the pulp canal
the strip adheres to the thick primal soup
gets swept way
into the blades
that leave variety of paper cuts behind
impossible to stay untangled from the mess
too hot and humid for long sleeves
eighty degrees
eighty percent humidity.

Discarded sheets of poster board come down as well
sail crazily
short dance on hot air
all goes in
doing my best to keep reduced
fast growing mountain
hot white paper scrap
then suddenly it stops.

Moment of peace
some fifteen minutes
while they put a new roll on the shaft.
I think to sneak a rest
lay down a couple minutes
on the sheets of cardboard on the floor.
There’s no one here but me
no windows
just bare concrete walls
at 3 a.m . . . inside this night shift hell.

Some wise guy throws a bucket full of dye into the hole
I’m now light blue in color
wide awake
looks like a long night
probably my last here.

PHOTO: Paper-making machine and paper mill workers (Canada, 1920).

dodson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bruce Louis Dodson
is an expat living in Borlänge, Sweden, where he writes fiction and poetry. Some of his most recent work has appeared in Foreign & Far Away: Writers Abroad Anthology,  Sleeping Cat Books: Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Tic Toc and Storm Cycle Anthologies (Kind of a Hurricane Press), Vine Leaves, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac, mgversion2>datura_84 & 89, and Maintenant 11.  His novel, Lost in Seattle, is available at Amazon.com. Visit him at brucedodson.wordpress.com.

Image
PASTORAL AS COMPLAINT
by Bruce Weigl

           The robin is so quarrelsome. He barks to no one in the trees; 
he fluffs his body twice its size and rattles in the leaves.
           He doesn’t know or won’t accept the nest is empty now,
the eggs a tatter on the ground. The storm was quick, 
           we didn’t see it come; no sound above the hum

a summer morning makes when god is in his place
           and we are free of tragedies that pile up along the way.  
The robin is so quarrelsome; 
           he thinks his life is gone just like the nest,
but he’s like the rest of us, it’s only just begun.

Photo: colonial1637(off & on)’s, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Weigl served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 and was awarded a Bronze Star. His first full-length collection of poems was published in 1979. He has received two Pushcart Prizes, a Patterson Poetry Prize, and a Yaddo Foundation Fellowship. Weigl was awarded the Bread Loaf Fellowship in Poetry in 1981 and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988. He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Song of Napalm.

Image
SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE OLD COUNTRY BUFFET
by Anne Caston 

              Madison, Wisconsin, 1996

Here is a genial congregation,
well fed and rosy with health and appetite,
robust children in tow. They have come
and all the generations of them, to be fed,
their old ones too who are eligible now
for a small discount, having lived to a ripe age.
Over the heaped and steaming plates, one by one,
heads bow, eyes close; the blessings are said.

Here there is good will; here peace
on earth, among the leafy greens, among the fruits
of the gardens of America’s heartland. Here is abundance,
here is the promised
land of milk and honey, out of which
a flank of the fatted calf, thick still
on its socket and bone, rises like a benediction
over the loaves of bread and the little fishes, belly-up in butter.

SOURCE: “Sunday Brunch at the Old Country Buffet” appears in Anne Caston’s collection Flying Out with the Wounded (New York University Press, 1997), available at Amazon.com.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Caston is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing/Poetry and a teacher in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of  Flying Out With The Wounded (New York University Press, 1997) and Judah’s Lion (Toad Hall Press, 2009, second edition). Her third collection, Prodigal, is forthcoming early in 2014 from Aldrich Press. Caston’s writing often pulls from her experiences as a former nurse, as a mother of four, and as a Southern woman raised among Southern Baptists. She’s currently working on a memoir entitled Deep Dixie: A Southerner’s Take On Life, Romance, Faith, Friendship, Family, And Coming-of-Age Among Southern Baptists.

Image

THE HALLOWEEN TREE (Excerpt)

by Ray Bradbury

“It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of…

Boys.
And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
And all the houses shut against a cool wind.
And the town was full of cold sunlight.
But suddenly, the day was gone.
Night came out from under each tree and spread.” 

Amazon.com Blurb: Eight boys set out on a Halloween night and are led into the depths of the past by a tall, mysterious character named Moundshroud. They ride on a black wind to autumn scenes in distant lands and times, where they witness other ways of celebrating this holiday about the dark time of year…This is a superb book for adults to read to children, a way to teach them, quite painlessly, about customs and imagery related to Halloween from ancient Egypt, Mediterranean cultures, Celtic Druidism, Mexico, and even a cathedral in Paris.Fiona Webster  (Note: This 160-page illustrated book is currently selling for $5.50 at Amazon.com — that’s the price for a new copy. Sounds like a bargain.)

Image

PASTORAL AS COMPLAINT

Poem by Bruce Weigl

           The robin is so quarrelsome. He barks to no one in the trees; 
he fluffs his body twice its size and rattles in the leaves.
           He doesn’t know or won’t accept the nest is empty now,
the eggs a tatter on the ground. The storm was quick, 
           we didn’t see it come; no sound above the hum

a summer morning makes when god is in his place
           and we are free of tragedies that pile up along the way.  
The robin is so quarrelsome; 
           he thinks his life is gone just like the nest,
but he’s like the rest of us, it’s only just begun.

Photo: colonial1637(off & on)’s, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED