the last post

We’d forgotten the smell, quite frankly,
The slightly citrus tang in the nostrils,
Accompanied by the roaring of the cannon-shaped mixer,
Though there was a time the whole town had a certain odor to it,
The scent of a place where things were made, where things happened
(The old timers, who’d grown up inhaling the residue of the mills,
Men whose wives swept particles of soot from their porches thrice daily,
Would note with something approximating mirth,
Whole place smells like cabbage havin’ a bad day)
But now the damp concrete had an almost morbid aroma to it,
(Indeed, it emanated from a small circle around a post
Securing a new section of chain-link fence around the old mill,
Not that it hadn’t been stripped of everything worth taking,
But there are always nattering questions of liability and culpability)
A whiff of something which resided on the edge of betrayal,
A reminder of how, after the final timber-laden flat car pulled out of sight,
The last scrape of the monolithic coal shovel pock-marking the hillside,
The final whistle of the final shift at the mills,
Suit-clad functionaries from Weyerhauser and Rosebud Mining
Played the role of reverse Magi, gathering what gifts we wretches had to offer
Then, without so much as a cursory nod, leaving us to fend as best we could,
And most days, we wouldn’t think much about things,
Such memories dwelling in places we’d rather not tread,
But there were calling hours going on for Butchie Jordan,
And the story was he’d told his wife
That he’d had a visit from his brother Slim
(Dead and gone some three years hence, understand)
Who’d told him that Heaven actually carried on constant nighttime,
And you could see smoke from stacks in the glow of blast furnaces
Which growl and glimmered non-stop,
Though the general consensus was that it was just the drugs and dehydration
Leading poor Butchie to somewhere of no particular kin to beatification.


9 thoughts on “the last post

    1. Bill Miller is right. But WHY did it have to BE this way????? Why would ANYONE think that the so- called “Free Trade” agreements, starting with NAFTA, help us in any way??? It’s so frustrating. When Slick Willie was shopping that damn NAFTA around in the 90s, even an economic MORON like myself questioned, “How the HELL can this be beneficial to America?” And, unfortunately, I was right. I didn’t WANT to be right, but I was. Slick Willie was just a Republican in Democratic clothing. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that I VOTED for that son of a bitch lying bastard. And Bush signed MORE “free trade” agreements, and so did Obama. I’m losing faith in EVERYTHING, and I’m very bitter. If you’re not bitter and angry, then you’re not paying attention.

      Sickening. I only wish and wish and wish it were reversible. Wishful thinking, huh???


  1. The memory of that smell that’s gone.. could have been rotten egg — could have been something else.. at one time this was the smell that meant food on the table.. now it means (for some) the smell of the past, of something menacing and dark.. still the empty mills are like tombs for some.

  2. I live in a mill town that is now on its uppers. We were cotton. Not too far away it was steel where women hung out white washing and brought it in a dusty red. It too is a Wasteland.
    The poem captures the collapse. There must be another way of organising ourselves beyond neo liberal capitalism.

  3. The bad stench of Peoria, Illinois was once bottled and sold, for memories I guess. You could sniff whatever was in there and truly go back; all the way back, but only for a while because it got boring. The decay and mold and rusted gain silos and general ghost town feeling was more satisfying than the nostalgia and bitterness.

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