The Sinking Grays by Michael Byrns

Smokestacks were industry’s lighthouse. The billowing bulb

Of an oncoming port. The crackling furnace of the town,

For five years, has not made a sound. The ash carried,

Into the nearby streets, stains the women’s nightgowns.

The smoke that colored the sky and the soot

That colored the bay. Industry’s permanent afterthought,

The grays that dyed the days. However,

Curtained sunlight cannot contain what’s sought.

The town wilts. The wood rots.

The mechanic’s tools are rusted. The shipwrights

Have folded their visions. The workers ebbed along

To assure themselves they were still men. Lured,

By whatever union promised some provisions.

But the water never left the coast. New paint

Can always be bought. Locally-forged iron

Is a town’s pride and stands up to any storm’s tides.

Those that stayed to bail the capsized town

Know economies sink, hope never drowns.