A MONTH IN A MELBOURNE SWEATSHOP

Phil Roberts 1957 (Melbourne)



One month late in 1976
About half a mile from Spotswood Station,
I found myself employed by devils
And deeply in need of salvation.

A Greek man, name of Georgio
Was foreman of that factory from Hell,
I stepped straight out of a fierce hailstorm
To be near deafened by untold decibels.

A factory, I think named AGM
Which manufactured metal bottle tops,
On open machines without guards or sides
Which we were told must never stop.

Down thin runnels came the tops
From a large hopper up on high,
When it clogged and HAD to be stopped
We’d lean out over the hopper, clinging for dear life.

One day with a screwdriver in my hand
A day I still remember well,
My whole life flashed before my eyes
As leaning out, I almost fell.

I remember scraping out broken tops
Then on the greasy metal, my boots began to slide,
And but for the strong grip of the Union Rep’s hands
That awful day I would have died.

The Rep sought out the foreman, Georgio
And loudly shouted at the Greek,
And never more did I climb the hopper
Instead, resigning later that week:

But not before the dreadful sight
Of seeing a screaming, crying man,
Racing hysterically round the factory floor
Blood spewing from the stump
                       of his severed right hand!

THE END
© Copyright 2021, Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

About this poem

Wrote this and after watching a documentary about Asian sweatshops, which ended by saying that we had not had such sweatshops in Australia since the 1860s. Wrong! I worked in horrific sweatshops in the 1970s and early '80s, and they still exist in and around Melbourne to this day!

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Written on December 10, 2008

Submitted by PHIL_ROBERTS on August 08, 2021

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:09 min read
2

Quick analysis:

Scheme XABA CDEB EFXX FXXX GDXD FHXH CIXI XXXXG XXX
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,275
Words 233
Stanzas 9
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 3

Phil Roberts

I turn 65 on the 31st of January 2022. I love cats, rock music, and horror fiction and poetry more…

All Phil Roberts poems | Phil Roberts Books

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