When a Factory's Life Ends
By Don Iannone
The foul gray smoke that once belched
from the tall brick stacks
was a bittersweet sign of life--
that the old factory was still working.
The smoke has now ended,
along with the noisy metal-banging,
that for so many years kept men busy from sun up till sun down.
The iron gates are chained shut,
and never again will greet the dark faces of the hardened men
with stale breath from strong black coffee and cigarettes.
It's too easy to blame too many strikes
for the factory's foreboding silence,
but hungry workers elsewhere,
willing to work for much less,
and customers needing less metal,
are just as much the reason
why the dark faces have grown much darker.
The mill is history--
a cold, lifeless archeological ruin,
and so are the paychecks that paid the bills
and gave some small consolation to the two thousand men,
who laughed at each other's lame jokes,
and dreamed of days when they wouldn't have to work so hard.
Now that day has come,
and the dreams and jokes have ended.