Old Steel City

By Michael Hislop

Old Mrs Steel
Hard and stark
Like her namesakes
This old city
Built on freight and coal
I an outsider
Stopped on My Pilgrimage
Looking for Home
I look a while
For I seek to see
The Essence of this place
That extending beyond Time and Space
I puff a cigarette
Like so many before
Exhaling with a wry grin
It is summery hot
And in the shimmery air
Engines rumble
Amid metallic clangs
Steaming haze hisses
Mixing with a gentle breeze
It smells not of sand and sea
But of gas and labour
Precious spent energy
Noting it all
Not as words but as feeling
I fall into History’s sway
Seeing from before
I see for now
I sense too forming a future
Swirling fogs surround me
Streaming a melange of centuries
Volumes of the deeds and dreams of men
Blending seamlessly with the sprawling docks
Above stretch skyscraping cranes
Below scurry endless lines of containers
Tended by their servants
Specks upon metal giants
Decaled trucks and men
Spreading outwards a spidery metal web
A maze of roads and railways
Bearing rows of lorries and boxcars
Haphazardly empty and full
Corralling thrusting diesels
Grunt their testosterone
On their way to a meeting with terminus
Horns persistently blare
In their perky insistency

Playing notes that flare
Hanging in the air instead of fading
Seemingly pleasing the mistresses of the sea
Resting in their wide berths
Oceanliners, bulkcarriers and battleships
Reds, blacks and whites
Soaring steep hulls
Sporting belching funnels
Buzzing around
In practiced frenzy
Master Tugboat
Speedy and strong
Guardian of the port
And there across the azure bay
Gleaming new highrises
Obscure nature’s hills
All this I see here
Whilst inside a certain fondness creeps
Like some few men
I prefer the grey
Dirt and grime

Grease and noise
And the smell of something more
Sitting in my wonder
I espy The Seven Seas
Home of ocean’s rascals

Tucked in corner spot
Hidden in the open
Home of Us
Who have won Life
Sailing on and past
The seven seas

MH: Michael Hislop



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