Prayers to the Steel Mill
Whoever said New York is the only
City that never sleeps should visit a
Steel town to witness a graveyard shift.
Convoys of men climb into old
Chevy pickup trucks with dented
Tin lunch pails at sundown.
They carry leftover home-cooked meals and
The sensation of their lover’s last kiss down
Green Street and up Valley Road.
Their headlights are brighter than the glare
On the windshield of their buddies’ hearse
During the funeral procession last week.
The employee parking lot is
Filled with more souls than the
Church was for his service.
The crucible doesn’t care about the
Clockwork of their hearts and what
Winds their gears for this shift.
It gapes its flaming jaws and consumes
What the foreman schedules.
Their wives sit up late with the lights on
And set their watches by the echo of the steam
Whistle that marks the moment to stir the steel.
The judgment day they dread is not signaled
By the hoof beats of the Four Horsemen,
Nor Christ with a fiery sword.
It will arrive if the sounds of their
Husband’s tires never grace the stones of
The gravel road before morning light.
There is no sleep until the men
Rise from the graveyard shift.
By Christian Sammartino