Fred Voss
    A prominent voice in the Los Angeles and Long Beach poetry scene and respected overseas as well, Fred Voss’s books include Goodstone, Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls and Hammers and Hearts of the Gods.
    Where does the human body end and the machine begin? Sometimes men’s and women’s voices start to sound like machines, and sometimes machines start to sound like people.  Fred Voss is intimately acquainted with the grimy, deadening, joyless workaday world, and yet I believe he would not trade that world for the deluxe, much-ivied halls of Harvard or Oxford. Voss writes about machinists and the homeless and the lives of those who struggle. He has been decisively influenced by the The Doors, by Kerouac and by Bukowski. These influences may or may not be apparent, but—to use his own words about Robert de Laura—Voss polishes poems to diamond perfection. I think that when he’s at his best he’s even better than Bukowski. His workplaces may be drab and his people may be scruffy, but the poems themselves sparkle with a wisdom and a vitality that, as far as I’m concerned, outshines most of what they produce up at Harvard.

Poetic at 300 MPH

When my girlfriend dumped me
I had nothing but my toolbox and the men all around me
in the factory
from Romania who had seen the spot on the river Jordan
where the Holy Spirit came down from heaven on the wings of a pigeon
on the Blanchard grinder who loved to polish his deep sea fishing reel
and talk about the valves on his 1954 Thunderbird
as I went to bed each night missing my girlfriend so badly I ached
to the bone
I had Roger
on his radial drill with his beerbelly that stuck out 3 feet and his special scent
of cologne that smelled like lighter fluid and 1-week-old
always ready to tell me about the bodies of the dancing girls he saw each afternoon
down at the pole-dance club
when I felt so lonely the whole universe
seemed empty
I could talk
tachometers and breasts and the Pope and point spreads
on NFL football game bets and dual carburetors
when I no longer had a girlfriend
to whom I could read poems about roses and eternal love
I had the wonders
of WD-40 lubricating oil on machine parts to enthuse over
instead of the love
to share with my girl as we watched the sun dip into the sea
there was that masterpiece THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
to rhapsodize over
with Lou as a 10-pound tool steel cutter plowed through the shoulder
of a -ton steel shank like butter
if I couldn’t have my girl to hold as we wept at the beauty of Beethoven’s 9th symphony
at least I could have Max
waxing poetic about the lightening fast roaring power of a drag strip car
racing past him at 300 mph until the earth shook
and his teeth knocked

Sometimes soul mates
have beautiful blue eyes and wavy red hair down to their waists
sometimes they grab a shop rag and wipe grease
off their arms.

2010 Fred Voss
Fred Voss was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the June 2010 Second Sunday Poetry Series