My Prose Machine Feels Broken

I pick up my screwdriver. Phillip’s head. I carefully unscrew the plated metal guarding my broken machine. I lay this aside.

I pick up my hammer and my stomach flips and then drops. I tighten my grip on the wooden handle. It’s a weighty hammer. A weapon. The machine looks so delicate and carefully built. Like the inner workings of an old clock or the motor of a carousel. But when I built it, I used a hot glue gun and clogged up all the cogs and gears and pulleys. A rushed, sticky mess.

I crunch. I bang. I smash apart.

Now the machine rests in pieces. I drop the hammer and it clangs against the warehouse floor. I am wearing a blue jumpsuit and the warehouse has a single overhead lamp illuminating my mechanical mess. I crouch and sift through the fragments. The smithereens. Oh God, what have I done?

Here’s a part that isn’t too beaten up. And another. I don’t know what this bit here was meant to do originally, but it’s clear it no longer belonged. As I separate the good from the bad, I begin to see a different kind of machine emerging.

I will have to dumpster dive and crawl through junkyards to find the missing pieces. I will have to wander flea markets and yard sales and pick up whatever feels necessary. I’ll know these things when I see them.

This is a craft. When it is finished it is art, but in the middle, in the warehouse with its single lamp and shadowy echoes, it is a craft. It takes sweat and blood and tears. A smashed finger, a misplaced nail gun, and a lot of cursing. There are no instruction manuals.

But I am learning what I should be listening for when I rap on the side of the machine:

An answering knock.


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