Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STEEL MILL MEN, by JULIAN LEE RAYFORD

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

STEEL MILL MEN, by                
First Line: The rails are shipped to peru, africa
Last Line: Of steel mill smoke.
Subject(s): Mills And Millers; Railroads; Steel; Railways; Trains

The rails are shipped to Peru, Africa,
England, India, Japan, Australia,
and everywhere else that railroads run.
And the men? ...
In grease-caked overalls soaked with sweat,
grimy faces shining in the blistering heat,
Stumbling, blundering, muttering, cursing, faint,
Hell, no ... you get used to it.
New men stop to look at a process,
you can't help but look once in a while,
The very beauty holds you,
But it's fatal ...
a wrench, anything might drop.
Many a man's been jerked from danger
by the seat of his pants.
This was called the slaughter-pen once,
Killed three hundred and sixty-five men one year,
And "one a day" was its motto.
But these men work on,
with death at their fingertips.
They look straight into the guts of hell,
their gaze unflinching, their eyes are cool.
The back-bone of Birmingham,
the pot-bellied furnaces
and tall red stacks
like beer bottles glowing in the sky.
And at night,
when orange rolls in the west,
The rainbow has not the glory
of steel mill smoke.

Discover our poem explanations - click here!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net