FPL's Off the Page Poetry Series presents John Milkereit: reminiscing about matchsticks. John Milkereit is an award-winning, juried poet who has been featured at Houston Poetry Fest and Inprint's prestigious First Friday poetry series. John's stand-up poetry is both hilarious and thought-provoking. Not to be missed poetry event.
Wednesday, July 17 at 7pm at Friendswood Public Library
|from the cover of Paying Admissions by John Milkereit: Cover Art by Steve Taylor|
Rotating Equipment Engineer
A rotating equipment engineer ought to land in a poem
because I love the surprise of him
entering a dimly-lit hallway
with his sack lunch
ready to say no to someone.
I enjoy his negating self, his I-don’t-build-anything
kind of job description.
What he actually does is a mystery.
One morning, his glasses could reflect from a computer screen
a motor data sheet or the news that a volcano erupted in Indonesia—
you would never know for sure. I’d want as many turns
in the poem as the pumps he specifies. Words and shafts
are traitors and dirty when the start button is pressed.
Parts spin out of control, taking limbs off their operators.
I reminisce about the days when he made more money
than a doctor, when building factories was a revolution.
His metal is so much like the sentence that takes so long
to get poured, and welded, and bolted into its shape.
Why not turn the result
over to the rulers of the world?
With a red pen mounted on his keyboard, he always waits,
ready to reject a test.
He can fly to a factory in a pair of steel-toed boots
to witness what is ready to ship. No matter what he calculates,
or whatever tools are hidden in his pocket, he is never finished.
Reminiscing About Matchsticks
Remember the best ones from nine-thousand years ago?
We rubbed two together with our hands
causing a resistance between two bodies
we later learned was friction, and a fire
ensued inside that cave, our cores warmed,
we roasted what I killed, somehow we survived the winters.
Where have the 1800s gone? We made small strips
of wood and paper tipped with a combustible material.
We lived in France for a while and upgraded to phosphorus.
Later, we moved to America and found twelve in a book.
We struck them using the tips of our fingers against a narrow
oxidizing landing strip that I will never forget.
Have you forgotten what happened last summer?
The generic-jacketed ones had camped in an amber
rust candle plate cussing and swapping stories about nothing.
They punched plumeria candles across the walnut
grains of our Queen Anne table. They avoided fallen rose
petals, salt granulars, and sudden plateaus of newspapers.
They even yanked a wagon of incense from Bangalore.
Yesterday they rode from San Antonio in a box
labeled Little Rhein Steak House,
Nick’s Fishmarket swam downstream from Chicago
and rendezvoused with The Daily Grind---
a local guide for the artic journey across the porcelain
tundra of our bathroom. They climbed the toilet basin towing
a candle layered in gardenia, seminole rain, and eggplant.
Certainly, it was an adventurous time to be alive, or at least cold.
Today, I am thinking about the extinguished ones of the past, their
brief little lives caused us to survive, and rescued us
from the jaws of boredom. I am even thinking about the future---
we could fly them to another planet, a place we can only guess,
start over again, and tell stories around a campfire,
stories we can only imagine.