‘The Machine Shop Broadmoor Hospital’ by Martin Figura

The Machine Shop Broadmoor Hospital
Frank at work, hanging smoke, yellow light,
the noise of hammers, hot dust in his throat.

Engine Lathe Operations and Controls

The pleasure of precision, of calibration tools,
the cool shine of gauge wheels.

The spindle rotates in both directions.
The tail stock can be positioned along the ways

A cast gripped in a machine’s jaws, a carbon tip
dead centre, burrows to its glowing heart.

and the quill moves within the tail stock.
The carriage also moves along the ways.

Skeins of steel at his feet,
all their sharp edges.

The cross slide moves
perpendicular to the ways.

Small black cuts snag in his overall pocket,
fingerprints smudge a white china mug.

To keep some of the mechanisms moving
longitudinally straight and true,

His rough fingers turn a hand-made cigarette,
his tongue wets the gum-edge of a Rizla.

ways are machined on the top surface.
Ways are ground and often hardened.

He leans back in satisfaction, inhales,
talks with other men of countersinking.
Martin Figura was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work and won the Hamish Canham Prize. He is Chair of Café Writers in Norwich. ‘The Machine Shop Broadmoor Hospital’ is from Whistle (Arrowhead Press) and was also published in Poetry News.

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