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Shifted Story Gears (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: An idea for a poem that might just lead to a much larger story. Hope you enjoy it!]

Once scientists threw what they perceived

     as a bunch of rusty metal and junk

         right beside a sign on the outskirts to their city

               that read, “Welcome to Smudge—

                       Home to the legendary Steampunk Lab”

                              with a note attached underneath,

                                      “Under New Management.”

Once a young mechanic on her evening journey home

            (after the completion of a grueling project)

        found an old robot scattered into limbs and parts

             abandoned beside a welcome sign among an assortment

                      of shattered bottles

                                                               empty food wrappers

                                 soda cans

                                                                           broken appliances

                                             deflated tires

                                                                          and unmarked

                                                                                                     steel barrels.

Once a dream played out in the memory of a lab assistant

      built by a scientist with a kind face and dimpled cheeks who

             grew older and older                      more wizened and hunched

                      while other scientists whose faces were serene in her presence

                                  (but severe in her absence)


                            until…                               the day…

                                 her creator was…


Once a robot woke up on the wooden worktable

       in the loft space of a tumbledown barn—

          that belonged to a tired                but enthusiastic mechanic

                       (dressed in overalls and sturdy work boots) 

                             who encouraged him to wiggle his tube-like arms

                                                                            flex his rubber glove hands

                                                                            dig through his toolbox contents

                                                                                     (contained within his spacious box-shaped body)

                                                                      and swivel his globe-shaped head

                                  …then apologized for his continued lack of legs

                                          (which she made up for with new straps

                                                     that would allow the mechanic to carry him around

                                                                    like a backpack).

Once a mechanic named Myra Crankshaft introduced herself

         to a robotic lab assistant called Gearbox

             and proposed a new life on the road for them both

                         as mechanics-for-hire and freelancers

                                who roamed from one location to the next

                                          to fix machinery long neglected

                                                     in distant locations

                                                             and help the people there.

Once two companions left a decrepit barn

     to cut their own path across a barren plain

          away from a vast city

             where the steam and smoke from factories filled the skies

                    and the noises of massive pumps and assembly lines

                           echoed in a regular rhythm throughout the day and night—

                                  while a spiraling tower topped by a purplish globe

                                             loomed at its center.

Once two travelers went forth

        into a world the mechanic had only heard tales about

               from people the robot had never known


                                                        to discover new stories

                                                               they would make

                                                                         for themselves.


6 thoughts on “Shifted Story Gears (A Poem)

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