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Monday, June 6, 2011

The Fire Room

The fire is in the boiler but,
It's hot enough,
To make it feel,
As if it's
Right here,
Outside,
In the firing aisle,
On the lower level.

How hot?
The heat is pulling
The sweat
Right out of
Our bodies,
Right through
Our shirts,
Where it joins
The wet,
In the heavy air,
Seeping from those
Leaking glands,
Sick gaskets
That can't be repaired
'Til we go
Cold iron,
Next month,
Maybe.
Have another salt tablet.

The snuffie keeping me company
In the firing aisle,
Looks a bit sleepy,
He's only been on watch
Five hours,
There's no place to sit,
We stand and watch the fire,
Look for sputtering,
Loss of fires,
Bad stuff
You know.
A gong sounds,
Put in another
Burner barrel,
Pull it out of the slot,
Slide it in,
Cut in the
Air,
Cut in the
Fuel,
Done.
Hear the blowers wind up,
The lower level
Returns to normal.

The check man on
The upper level,
Looks across,
Through a pane of glass.
Not forty feet away,
There sits
The boiler tech
Of the watch.
When did we all
Become,
TECHs?
Water Tender was
Descriptive,
Boilermaker was,
Highly descriptive,
(Not the drink).
Soon a Boatswain will be a,
Deck Tech (!?),
(May we not live
That long).

The check man has
Nothing to do,
Unless something
Goes very wrong,
In which case,
He'd best move
Fast,
Very fast,
Lest water carry over
Where it's not welcome.

Once we blew tubes
Once a watch,
Black oil made it
Necessary,
Along with all sorts of
Other cares.
Now
Clean burning distillate
Makes for a life of
Ease.
If this is a life of
Ease,
Our brothers of the
Bygone era,
Must have labored
In Hell.
Have another salt tablet.

How things have changed,
The Boiler Tech of the watch,
Sits in an air conditioned booth.
A Boiler Tech who doesn't sweat?
No wonder they changed the name.
Now all the action is on
The lower level.
Where real men still dwell,
And sweat,
Come on down,
The temperature's
Just fine,
How fine?
We won't tell.
The rest of the show,
Is viewed,
But operated,
By control air,
Remotely,
Modern.

On the way off watch,
Let's take a
Hollywood shower,
On the lower level,
It's 130 degrees,
We might not,
Be able to tell,
When the water
Is on,
But we're hard guys,
Have another salt tablet.

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