Ode to a Magnetic Screwdriver

This entry is part 11 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools

If the part that screws
is the head — this X-
shaped tip — then
the other end must be
tail: the shaft rooted
in transparent sun-
colored plastic like
an insect in amber.
And considering how
the power drill
with screwdriver bit
has replaced it,
this might as well be
a relic from
the Mesozoic.
The tip attracts
anything steel, but
can only solve for x,
descending into
the head of the screw
like a spirit
into someone possessed,
spinning like a purpose-
driven whirlwind
in a desert of wood,
inclining ever so slightly
toward magnetic north.

Series Navigation← Ode to ForksOde to a Plumb Bob →
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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

10 Comments


  1. Dang! I love these tool poems! Who would have thought the humble tool had so much metaphor in him. Too many favorite lines..too little time.. but as a benighted user of the “age of faith” hand screwdriver, I can relate to everything said and wish I had said any one of those things. “insect in amber”, “solve for x” , “purpose driven whirlwind in a desert of wood”. Am also seriously checking while on my next project to see if I’m inclined toward magnetic north. When does the book come out? I need to save up.

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  2. I love “can only solve for X” and “like a purpose-/ driven whirlwind” and “inclining ever so slightly / toward magnetic north.” Great hints of Christian imagery in this one — the tilted cruciform of X, the hint of “purpose-driven life,” age of faith and someone possessed and even the desert reference. Nice.

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  3. Joan – I’m glad this one resonated with you. I still use screwdrivers, too – in fact, I used one today, prompted by the poem, to remove my bathroom drain. That was when I realized that the poem took a decidedly limited view of the screwdriver’s applications: it ain’t just wood, and it ain’t just screwing in. But then of course realism was never the point, was it?

    Rachel – Thanks. My first draft was more explicitly Christian – and probably a lot less fun. Best not to over-determine things with these tool odes, since one of the main ideas is to try and liberate tools from their narrowly defined roles.

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  4. Good to read so splendid a paean to my favourite tool in the box, Dave.

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  5. No mention yet of the ratchet screw driver which might almost introduce a new metaphysical dimension.

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  6. Thanks, Dick. I’m glad this one worked for you.

    Joe – I should probably know what a ratchet screw driver is, but I’m afraid I don’t. Sounds intriguing.

    I’ve been debating whether I should write about the Yankee push drill – I’m afraid that might be too obscure, too. As it is, my “hand truck” threw several people for a loop.

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  7. I’ve been enjoying these odes, too. They make me wish for a man versed enough in both hand tools and poetry to share them with.

    ;-)

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  8. What, they don’t have men like that in New Jersey? I’m disillusioned.

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  9. A ratchet screwdriver allows you, by means of a ratchet mechanism, to fit the blade into the head of the screw and simply push forward. The head of the screw is then rotated by the forward motion alone, which is repeted until the screw is tightened or loosened. I have had one for years and found that because it provides extra purchase can be particularly useful with intractable screws.

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  10. Ah – that’s exactly how the Yankee push drill works! Cool. Thanks for following up.

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