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M A Y   1 9 9 6

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VASECTOMY

for Adam Smith

by Thom Ward



Hear Thom Ward read this poem (in RealAudio).

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No one's notified the workers
shares have been split, the factory sold.
Frames are still being welded, transmissions
bolted to engines, acetylene torches lit
gold like the light from miners' helmets
on groaning timber. Coal
is still chiseled, and dust
spun into lungs. No one's posted signs:
Road Out. Bridge Out. Danger Ahead.
Fingers black with dye, young girls
disappear in looms. Women
boil metal, pour it steaming into molds.
Day fused to night, millions of laborers,
backs crooked and hands cracked,
manufacture bottles, canisters, and cogs,
replicating product
that will never reach foreign markets.
Soldiers turn semis back at the border.
Executives charter planes,
shift funds into Swiss accounts.
How long before word of this
hits the factories, the mines, the wicked
textile mills? What good, what possible good,
is supply without demand?



Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 1996; Vasectomy; Volume 277, No. 5; page 99.

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