the foundry men
the factory hooters lance the menthol of the night; the
phlegm of slag, shrouded in the smoke of hade’s cupola,
lit blue by will-o'-the-wisps across the black anvils of their night;
hard run, vein knotted, the muscular sweat of the iron men,
sinews gaunt as leather aprons, nicotine spittled, bared in the
insane leer of lucifer, drooling at the pitchers of sherbet slake.
faces a-flash, half red in the furnace burn, half pock-black
away in the sharp crack of the foundry-sanded dark, deep
in the moulding shop, that roars defiance at the fettlers’ drills
sprite in the bottom shop, amid their gantries and their shot.
men of an iron-mind in their expediency, the immediacy
of fighting the molten lode, bead-eyed, waltzing with death
day and night in this taut cauldron of alpha males;
as hard as nails and as canny as their throw-away remarks
that nail the new boys to the spot.
out! tap out the flow of metal, bright as the sun,
the crust as dark as congealed blood;
spear the bot! spear the bot!
and let it urge into the mould, dodging the sparks
scorched and buzzing;
and far from the homely hearth
the moulders’ clogs rattle the stanchions of fear,
their knuckles white at the foundling of men from boys,
in the melding of metal and minds, of dust with rust,
of an age when the iron gates of the mandarin’s mausoleums
sigh for the men who flocked from bucolic’s green fields
to harvest this lode of hell, a heavy metal cross;
damned by their thirty pieces of silver, long before
they die smothered, for the wages of tin is death,
you see these foundry men? as hard bitten as they are,
red hot in lust, this is their long-sought post-coital sleep,
and deep in this, the final settlement, they must lay
as foundry dust upon dust upon dust.
and the factory hooters?
they gently lift the caul of a brand new day.