Hood Rubber Company

by Carol Schoen

The day begins with the Sicilian
tarantella. The metal
fingers of the machine
reach down
through the fabric, then up,
Clutch, loop and knot,
then toss it off,
another tennis-shoe is formed,
pick another.
Metal fingers clutch,
loop, knot. Thirty seconds,
Every thirty seconds.
How many in an hour,
in a eight hour shift,
in a forty hour week?
Clutch, loop knot.

The stool is indented
to hold the body still.
Sousa’s marches now.
on the loudspeaker.
Metal fingers puncture
the cloth; rip through warp and woof..
The walls are grey,
the ceiling high, two
maybe three stories.
At the top a row of long
narrow windows rusted closed.
Metal fingers clutch
loop, knot.

A door opens, notebook,
pencil, watch in hand
before we have a chance to slow,
he times us — only twenty
eight seconds!
Will they change the rate,
save two seconds per unit?
how much will the company
make with two extra seconds
every minute, sixty minutes
an hour?
clutch, loop, knot.

The shop steward sweeps
in on his scooter, pinches
Mary; she smiles.
rubs the spot when he leaves.
A fuss, the new girl is working.
too fast. I imagine purple and orange
flowers on the wall
then change them
to yellow and blue
four more hours;
clutch, loop,


Carol Schoen wrote her first poems for Sarah White’s study group and has been chugging along happily ever since.