Faceless cogs line up for the machine

while the old ones retire to scrub themselves clean;

& as we pour out the door like we haven’t seen the sun before,

my eyes come to rest on another cog’s chest.

A trick of the mind, I might’ve guessed,

but what else what pressed into his vest

other than a tag with my same number and name.

Maybe the management was to blame,

but I saw his color drain as he crossed the door frame

& I watched as be became the piece that I had been.

His eyes turned gray like the clouds of the day he’d have lost

at the cost of letting himself be bossed about

by men we were all better than

but the price they paid kept our revolt delayed

& together we made an organ that stayed in place

until her pieces decayed and had to be replaced

with a new set of gears like the one I’d just passed.

At last, I saw the sun,

but it was too late to tell the new ones

that they should have turned and run.


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