Ensley, Alabama: 1932

By John Beecher

Vol. 4, No. 3, 1982, p. 17

The mills are down.
The hundred stacks
are shorn of their drifting fume.
The idle tracks
rust . . .
Smeared red with the dust
of millions of tons of smelted ore
the furnaces loom--
towering, desolate tubes--
smokeless and stark in the sun . . .
Powerhouse cubes
turbines hummed in,
platesteel mains the airblast thrummed in
are quiet, and the sudden roar
of blown-off steam . . .
At night
the needle gleam
where the ladle poured at the pig machine,
the deep smoulder of an iron run
and the spreading light
of molten slag over the sleeping town
are seen
no more
now mills and men are down.

From Collected Poems, 1924-1974 by John Beecher, New York: MacMillan, 1974.