p
o
e
m
s

Your steps echo in a vast hall,

grey lit and empty except for some plastic seats.

Photographs cluster on a blackwashed cinder-block wall:

“B-36”

“Atlas” and

“B-58”.

Try to chat with the other recruit.

Like you he sits in a pale seat and wears a navy blazer.

 

Follow the tour to a long, hushed room

where rows of metal tables bask in blue-white light,

each with a draftsman, bent

motionless over his task.

Old blueprints are evaporating in the chilly air.

You shiver wearily and head for the stair.

 

Sullen clouds are creeping above the skylights; inside rumbles

the various grays of production:

concrete floors, ducts, rolling bins,

parts, machines, workers in coveralls,

a polished steel fuselage.

A power tool squawks.

The elevator awaits . . .

 

You hear the clinking of glass and porcelain?

Smell the vague sauces as the doors slide back.

Select a dish from the cafeteria cart.

Stand in line.

The windows moan;

Outside, fretful winds buffet weeds in a tiny courtyard.

Contribute smally to the hum of voices,

review the scores. Are there other choices?

 

Enter quickly

where unseen cigarettes smoulder under uniform light and low ceilings.

A coffeemaker hisses, and you feel perfumed feet

in the carpet beyond the partition.

A coin-faced man in grey and tan

hands you a standard application.

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