Table Saw Slam

I like acrostics. They offer a chance to write like a rapper, like a poetry slammer. Read this one through once. Then stand up, close the door and read it out loud—with feeling. Go ahead, no one’s watching…

Teeth circle, hungry for more. The last pass complete, he freezes; looks around without moving. The motor’s whir is unbound and clean. There is a sublime hum to the whir; something he just now notices as time ratchets away in nano-beats. Full speed sound in a slo-mo moment. The scent of fresh cut pine is strong, nearly cloying.

Asymmetric view through a line of fleshy crimson dots; they run up his face shield like red pulp from a spastic juicer. The memory of flinching back is still fresh. He kept control of the board though—lest it become a projectile.

Boards: propped against the workbench, ready for assembly. This was to be the first of many money saving projects around the home with the new tool; justification for its purchase; a hobby that paid dividends—unlike golf. The scent of the boards is an intoxicant and will forever be a reminder of this day. His eyes go watery and the lights intensify the swimmery-shimmery view.

Lights, installed to illuminate the new tool and the current project, shine brightly on the aftermath. Lately he has been trying to save money in case something catastrophic should happen. The irony, even as a fleeting idea, does not elude him. He finally increases his view of things by moving his head.

End-cuts are generally easier and safer than the rip-cuts he was making tonight. But the boards had to be narrower in order to fit. Regret creeps in, cold as leftovers—cold as a detachment; phantom digits complain of that detachment. And the cold has less to do with temperature and more to do with temperament; a deliberation of calculation.

Saw blade whirring; she calls him for dinner, has no idea the current dilemma. For her it’s all about chicken and rice and a new sauce she found on a blog focusing on south Asian cuisine—an oxymoron if there ever was one. The idea of Asian food conjures flavors both piquant and spicy, and he cannot say why this diversion now but the hot spicy pepper effect on the tongue suddenly transfers its bite to his hand.

Arm held up because all in a rush the nerves in his hand register a problem — scream a warning that something’s amiss. The whirr of the new tool becomes a buzz—a hum in his head, and later the sound will conjure a sense of horror and dread; reminiscent of the day he lost so much.

Whirrrr; it’s all he can hear. Even as he addresses his wife—tells her he’ll be right there, which is a lie from a man in denial—it is the whirring sound that defines his day, his week, his month. It is a sound he’ll hear for the rest of his life — elevator music for the damned.

So did you? Feel it, that is…


9 thoughts on “Table Saw Slam

  1. GP Ching

    Fabulous rhythm, fabulous story. I love the way the words fall in a sort of whirr. This one looks great on the page too. Nicely done. This must’ve taken some time to get right.

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      I found this bit of mine, handwritten on a blank signature from a press at work, so I know I couldn’t have spent much time on it. It was in my scrap heap half done and abandoned.
      In rereading it, I saw a direction and finished it by typing it out. The lyrical quality just came naturally from reading it out loud while editing, which is something I do to everything I write.
      I like to hear it. Knowaddamean?

  2. Mike Robertson

    Okay, I’m stuck. I closed the door and now I can’t for the life of me figure how to slam it without opening it again, which you somehow forgot to include in your opening instructions.

    Meanwhile I read your story, which is pretty damn amazing, must say, even if it does make my finger hurt. Cheers.

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      Poetry slams are open mic nights where you read what you brought in front of everyone in attendance. I’ve never been up to the mic, but I think it would be fun.

      I read the italicized opening and saw it the way you read it. The suggestion was to read it aloud (slam it), not slam the door. Sorry about that.


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