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poetry 0
Joseph Rathgeber

 

The Triangle Offense :::

 
The offense requires wide spacing: Slave ships: Slave ships: 14-
hour workday for sewing machine operators: $2 wage a day: Cuts
and screens: Garment workers are agitated: Necks connected by
wooden yokes: talk of unions, talk of unions: Auction block:
Angles and distances: Middle Passage: Geometry is an art of precision:
Pedal pump machine, 34 stitches a minute: Sugar plantation
sweetens the coffee plantation: Sprint through the lane:
Electric machines, 3000 stitches a minute: Post up: Buttonhole:
Buttonhole: Buttonhole: Filthy lucre: “If you look at our offense,
you’ll see we’re in equilateral triangles.”

 

The Triangular Slave trade :::

 

Tex Winter, the architect: Bodies of seamstresses strewn: On
sidewalks: On the gangplank: Read the defense, react to the
defender: teenage girls: Immigrant girls: Export of goods:
Export of African bodies: Export of products: March 25, 1911:
top 3 floors: 10-storey Asch Building: Sir John Hawkins: Maafa:
Post player: Perimeter players: Diagrams: Forcibly embarked: 4
continents: 4 centuries: Approximately 12 million: Discarded
rags: Fire!: Wing pass: Weak-side: Ports: Ports: Ports: “I saw my
girls, my pretty ones, going down through the air. they hit the
sidewalk spread out and still.”

 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire :::

 

Three-legged route: 145 employees: Extraction and exchange:
Extraction and exchange: Wing denial: Ball reversal: Separate the
seed without destroying the fiber: “Bodies burned to bare bones,
skeletons bending over sewing machines”: Men slaughtered:
Manslaughter: Elbow-extended area: Dribble-drive: Held below
deck: the locked door: $75 per life lost: Lost at sea: Loss:
Endemic gastrointestinal diseases: Epidemic pathogens: Safety
and working conditions: X’s and O’s: X’s stitched on the eyes:
Private exits: Forced movement: “The turning of Africa into a
warren for the commercial hunting of black skins.”

Joseph Rathgeber is an author, poet, and high school English teacher from New Jersey. His debut story collection is The Abridged Autobiography of Yousef R. and Other Stories (ELJ Publications, 2014). He received a 2014 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.