Sample Poems from Wall of Sound


We report out monthly to the team,
So you don’t have to wonder where you stand.
If you’ve had bookings, let’s say sixty grand,
Then you’re a sales machine and reign supreme;
If, however, business has been lean
And you have spent the whole month pounding sand
And tiptoe in with nothing in your hand
Then they quit celebrating and turn mean.

So I can be a hero or a bum
Based on my job’s inherent ebb and flow.
It’s been half each over the long haul.
When they start snarling at me, I go numb
And focus on my paycheck, since I know
It’s only real life, nothing personal.

It’s always been there, but it’s grown a lot,
Having swallowed up its neighborhood,
Some stores and houses and a heat treat shop.
Its owners have put in new capital,
The cancer unit and the MRI,
And transport people in from miles around
To keep their assets fully utilized.

People used to travel here to work
In one or another factory,
But that need for labor has dried up.
Now people are the raw material
And processed product of an industry,
Strapped on carts and moving down the line,
All stacked up between the big machines.

It is the great circle of business life,
One thing after another, logging, furs,
Farming, manufacturing, now this,
And maybe something else in twenty years.
The world spins and the pieces shift around
As in an overgrown kaleidoscope.
It’s thrilling if you don’t need steady work.

At least this time around the cause is good,
Since at a working level the whole point
Is to care for others.  And because
Their most advanced machines require a pool
Of population to draw patients from,
They put them in big cities, even those
Where everybody else is moving out.

And so the ailing city has become
A magnet for the sick, who funnel in
From far beyond its ramshackle expanse,
Seeking treatment for an endless stream
Of ailments, illnesses, and injuries,
Coming here, of all places on Earth,
As if to someplace holy to be healed.

I planned to buy a used one to set up
In my garage, to teach myself to weld,
Converting the area into a workshop,
Though it’s already slightly overfilled.

My father was a welder way back when.
He had a helmet and a toolbox full
Of welding stuff with burn marks on one end,
So I assumed I could skip welding school.

I brought it up, and was abruptly quizzed
On what it cost and what I need it for,
And I lost focus and became confused,
And my welding dream was shown the door

For now, since funding for the deal fell through.
My new plan is to trade something for one
To sidestep budgetary re-review.
I think that’s what my father would have done.


My ear tag has a number, but my name
Is Flossie.  I work at a dairy farm
Where every day is pretty much the same:
When they turn the lights on in the barn

We eat some feed, and then are led outside
And down the ramps, where we’re quickly hosed clean,
Then to the milking parlor, where we ride
The continuous rotary milking machine,

Which is our labor, three times every day.
And in between we go to the feed lot
And eat feed from the trough, and sometimes hay,
Which after a good milking hits the spot.

The milker spins slowly.  You just step on
And are all prepped and hooked up in a snap,
While right behind, a cow whose round is done
Is being uninstalled to make a gap

For the next cow, one cow off, one on,
And ninety in between them riding steel
In a radially symmetric formation
Like flower petals or spokes on a wheel,

Staring at the hub of the machine,
Where their ninety milk hoses combine
Into an unbroken high-volume stream
Filling trucks and tank cars down the line.

We often talk about our calves, who were
Removed from us a few days after birth
To be prepared, as we once were, to serve
Their fated bovine purpose on this earth.

We send a sea of milk out every day,
A full quota from every mother cow,
And hope a little of it flows their way.
They all must be getting so big by now.

Acknowledgements: Blue Unicorn (“Salesman”), Slant (“Hospital,””Flossie”), The Lyric (“Welder”)