Steve Smith

Like a gray ghost in the cemetery of my memory

the shuttered Alcoa aluminum factory in Edgewater, New Jersey
looms, taking me back to when my friends and I would squeeze
through the chain link fence, past the No Trespassing signs,
climb through cracked windows to explore the stained concrete
rooms and floors strewn with rocks, broken glass, twisted piles
of metal wire, broken palettes and rusted pipes…our noses
seared by the remnant scent of toxic chemicals and dead vermin.

Once the town’s pride, provider of livelihoods, the pounding
aluminum presses resounded throughout town like the stomps
of a dinosaur. Neighbors with gritty faces carried lunch pails
through the gaping maw of the entrance, wearing hard hats,
protective gloves and safety glasses to operate machinery
and furnaces that hissed, thundered, glowed the windows orange,
sprayed them with firestorms of white hot sparks, those workers
came back when their shifts were done dark circles
under their eyes faces charcoaled with metal dust…only
to come down with mysterious illnesses after the company
abandoned town in 1964.

We watched rays of light slant through the broken windows casting
strange angles and figures on the walls as we went from room
to room, exploring, chilled by the echo of our own footsteps
and shadows and by the cold air whistling down the stairwells
like the murmur of something that still squatted there in the vast

About the author
Steve Smith
earned a BFA at the school of visual arts in NYC. Steve’s poems have appeared in the Kelsey Review, US1 Worksheets, The New Jersey Journal of poetry, Paterson Literary Review, Nerve Cowboy, The Barefoot Muse as well as the Mid-West Prairie Review. Steve resides in Pennington N.J. with his wife Fran.

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