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Poetry By: Philip Roberts
Literary fiction

Wrote this and the next poem after watching a documentary about Asian sweatshops, which ended by saying that we had not had such sweatshops in Australia since the 1960s. Wrong! I worked in horrific sweatshops in the 1970s and early '80s, and they still exist in and around Melbourne to this day!

Submitted:Jan 27, 2011    Reads: 62    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

One month late in 1976
About half a mile from Spotswood Station,
I found myself employed by devils
And deeply in need of salvation.

A Greek man, name of Georgio
Was foreman of that factory from Hell,
I stepped straight out of a fierce hailstorm
To be near deafened by untold decibels.

A factory, I think named AGM
Which manufactured metal bottle tops,
On open machines without guards or sides
Which we were told must never stop.

Down thin runnels came the tops
From a large hopper up on high,
When it clogged and HAD to be stopped
We'd lean out over the hopper,clinging for dear life.

One day with a screwdriver in my hand
A day I still remember well,
My whole life flashed before my eyes
As leaning out, I almost fell.

I remember scraping out broken tops
Then on the greasy metal my boots began to slide,
And but for the strong grip of the Union Rep's hands
That awful day I would have died.

The Rep sought out the foreman, Georgio
And loudly shouted at the Greek,
And never more did I climb the hopper
Instead resigning later that week:

But not before the dreadful sight
Of seeing a screaming, crying man,
Racing hysterically round the factory floor
Blood spewing from the stump of his severed right hand!

© Copyright 2011
Philip Roberts


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