by Michael Fraser
This steel-cold factory drinks ink
by truckloads, frees paper to blush
the polished floor’s concrete face.
I juice the graveyard shift Friday,
and if I luck out, Saturday too.
On sweep duty, I swing past
everyone twice, nod to my
supervisor, who we know is
banging the lead temp. She is
married with two kids. They motel
it, hours before our shift lands.
Every face is a long story short
machined through the blue-collar
hum and haze. Outside on smoke
break, union guys jaw – see if Eddie
can open doors, once you’re in,
it’s f-ing eh! – I don’t mention English
and Geography assignments due Monday.
3:30am lunch, I lay in the recycle
compactor’s hyena jaws, somewhat
knowing life’s final rest is one push-
button accident away. I’m sixteen
and learning what existence means.
— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 1