Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real

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Our Chains Are Invisible But No Less Real

It's 1978 and I'm 19.
I wear no iron collar
and am not beaten or harmed
to get me to rise from rest,
Instead there's a wind-up,
stand-up travel alarm.

It's just as effective.
I'm compelled
by want of money,
Sense of duty,
examples of others,
By my own self-perpetuating

My own clothes
are removed
on the factory floor,
Replaced by
a black waterproof apron
tied with cheap string,
Black boots
tied with cheap string,
Black gauntlets
and a key to
the cyanide store.
A mask of paper
to protect from 
this deadly vapour
and more -
Sulphuric acid,
caustic soda
and fifty thousand volts
of raw power.

We're faking, making steel
shine like silver,
Illuminating aluminium
with a blue glint of zinc,
Alchemists slaving
in the deafening noise,
Sweating half-naked
in hammering heat,
To make muck into copper
and piles of brass -
£37 a week for me,
The bulk of it for
the factory-owner 
and his class.

I operate machinery
and it operates me,
But a million metal pieces
chink and ching
at my command.
Contained in a cage,
dipped and drowned
in toxic electric soup,
They are tormented 
by free electrons
And then 
forever changed.

I sell my freedom
but at least get paid,
And on Thursday's pay-night
felt it all worthwhile
When you sat on my lap,
held my hand
And gave me, freely,
your smile.
And more free chemicals
came to play,
As we were compelled,
chained and bidden,
And a host of 
feral forces,
Hot and hidden,
held sway.

◄ Hansel

Signals ►


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Chris Bainbridge

Fri 18th Jan 2019 00:53

Thank you all for your comments and ideas, some very interesting points. I really appreciate the feedback.
Most of my working life has taken a different direction - university then a host of jobs in health and social care. I loved my brief spell in industry however - looking back, I have rarely been happier! Then again, I was young!

Frances Macaulay Forde

Thu 17th Jan 2019 05:26

What a lovely - surprising, link at the end! You lulled me into your hard-working 1978 then switched on the romance-magnifier. (Hang on... now I'm inspired!) Well done. Most enjoyable, Chris.

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Tommy Carroll

Mon 14th Jan 2019 14:23

Hi Chris - A sweet duplicity holds sway, chemicals and Thursday evenings - well put 'sir' (wink).

ps mentioning the "C" word- oh dear ? tc

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 14th Jan 2019 13:17

We're all slaves to work and duty. The choice is often chance or
opportunity as much as qualification or suitability. It would make
interesting reading if someone completed a study of the people
in jobs that would have been a distant choice in other circumstances.

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