Read a Poem
Midnight Shift At Quality Plastics
By Pamela R. Anderson
You learn solitude when you run a press
8 hours a day. You learn to throw flat cardboard
onto the cement floor to cushion throbbing feet.
You learn to doze by the time clock, sleeping
through 8 minutes of a 10-minute break.
When the wasp lands on the front of your red t-shirt,
wings flexing with suspicious deliberation,
you learn to tamp down terror and lift it away
with the edge of the plastic knife
you just trimmed with a razorblade.
The hopper boy pours plastic pellets into the gaping
press mouth, where it melts then surges
through the extruder and into the molds.
A 7-second press makes you quick
with the blade. You learn to be quick at 4 am.
You learn to wrap your bloody palm in cloth strips
when the blade slips. You learn just how far
you can reach your hand into the grinder
to chop up scrap. You learn that exhaustion vanishes
when eastern light flickers through the grimy windows.
"Midnight Shift at Quality Plastics" by Pamela R. Anderson from Common Threads 2020.
Ed. Steve Abbott. Ohio Poetry Association Press. 2020. Used by permission of the author.
Pamela R. Anderson is a traveler, blues music lover, yoga practitioner, and former public radio fundraiser who grew up in Northeast Ohio’s Steel Valley. Her chapbook—Just the Girls
—was published by The Poetry Box in 2020. In 2021, two more of her poetry chapbooks will be published: Widow Maker
(Finishing Line Press) and The Galloping Garbage Truck
(Kelsay Books). Much of her writing focuses on the Holocaust, reflecting her father’s service as a WWII paratrooper in the 82nd
Airborne. Pam’s poetry has appeared in JennyMag, Atticus Review, Whurk, Coffin Bell
, and elsewhere; she is a graduate of the Northeast Ohio MFA Program. Find her on Twitter: @prandersonpoet. Her website is https://www.pamelaranderson.org/
Write a Poem
Write a translitic
. Find a poem written in a language you do not know and rewrite it as what it sounds like to you. Then take your draft and revise it into a new poem all your own. It should not be a translation.