Poem: The Filmmakers Called It Art

work gloves on work bench


The Filmmakers Called It Art

This poem is from my book Stars Crawl Out From Their Caves. You can hear me read the poem. Below the recording, you’ll find the full text of the poem:

The Filmmakers Called It Art

He had to pay to see the movie
made about the carburetor factory
after it closed. Popcorn in the theater.
On the screen, his old place on the four-barrel line
across from the supervisor’s glass shack.
The same as every morning,
ready to fire up. A movie with no people.
Static conveyors, rows of machine tool stations.
Shadowy punch presses, an open corridor.
Bright metal burrs still littered the floors.
Weeks afterward, he played the movie in his mind.
Frame by frame, all still shots now.
Cutting oil. Smeared hand rails. A pair of old
work gloves thrown onto a chair. He thought
he ought to be happy. Never going back.


I actually spent a couple summers working in a carburetor factory.  I swear, it seems like there’s about three hundred finely designed parts to a carburetor.  They all have to be either forged, or pressed from sheet metal, then carved up by machine tools, just so. Cut or sliced or drilled. Parts need to be plated with the right kind of chrome (or other) bath.  Several places along the way dimensions have to be checked and confirmed.

Then all the bits and coils and so on have to be put together, big and small.  Given the tight tolerances required, it’s amazing a carburetor can be made to work at all.

You can imagine the number of people it took to make all those parts, handle the whole system to make metal come in one door and good carburetors go out the other.  Fuel rails and injectors made carburetors a thing of the past for most vehicles.  Simpler, fewer parts to put together, less people needed to do the work, and (depending who you talk to) better performance in your car.


I’d love to hear any comments you may have. Have you written a poem with a similar theme or subject matter? Tell me about it, or link to it in the comments if you like.