Midnights — Gary Works

by Lin Kaatz Chary 

Smoke and blood is the mix of steel.
— Carl Sandburg

and nature transformed.

Mill lights reflect onto lake, black smoke
of production merged with black clouds
of twilight   low on the horizon. The breakwater
a dark arm stretching past the shore, shadows
of slag heaps mound in the weak light.

Hellwalk:   flares of fire and gas rolling
across topsides   coal dust explosive
as gunpowder      novas flash and eat  flesh
coal transformed into coke   ovens hot
as orange suns in a universe of furnaces

more powerful than night   wind sweeps
off water sweeps across battery walkways dark
hawk  wingflaps of ice;   black ice   flesh ice
finger ice    freezing third rail dead   freezing
pusher machine dead     no third rail   no coke.

and nature transformed.

No. 13, high on the horizon – queen
above all others – No. 13, “biggest blast
furnace in the free world”;   inside her belly
streams of bright orange percolate molten
through narrow troughs   silver sparks and

the smell of sulfur. Helpers, like travelers
from outer space in metallic suits and hoods,
outsized silver hands    poke     prod     pound
jackhammer slams bites,    motes of graphite
sparkle through the air   stench of rotten

eggs; monoxide hovers     omniscient
ghost   gauge needles flirt with invisible
danger       iron lava gushes in bright tides
hungry mouths of gaping railcars wait
limestone  ore   and coke       remade.
and nature transformed

Slag pops split the night   echo of earthquake
molten steel hitting water can   blow
a body back to its original elements: blood
bone    bits of matter;   pools of leftover
rain glint in quiet shadows     unlit corners;

lakes that can break ore freighters
in two       hawkwind against waves
hammer against hulls      power
cold and raw       interlocked shoulder
to shoreline     blood to water    human

hands and the hot sweat of hard
muscles against tense flesh
the black lake roiling     the red
furnaces burning   the steel slabs
rolling     steam     sweat     steel

to nature transformed.



Lin Kaatz Chary was a Perry Morgan Fellow in the Creative Writing Program at ODU in Creative Non-Fiction and she also writes poetry. She is the winner of the 2016 ODU College Ruhi Dayanim Poetry Prize. Her work has been published online at Briller Magazine and she writes regularly for the The Body Is Not an Apology. Lin is a non-fiction editor for FourTies Literary Journal.