THE RUINS OF BETHLEHEM STEEL

Men made things at the mill: armor
plate, battleship guns, girders
that gave rise to the Empire State

Building and span to the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Tell him of Things,” Rilke wrote.
“He will stand astonished, as you stood

by the rope-maker in Rome or the potter
along the Nile.” To forge iron is to win
the favor of Hephaestus—a chance at godhood.

But the fume-belching blast furnace has expired,
its lungs succumbed to a carcinoma of rust. Steel’s
improbable obsolescence. Even the slot parlor

with its promise of glamour and bling
is devoid of the clinking of metal falling on metal.
The humiliation of a company once powerful,

now spent and exhausted, remains,
along with offers to treat addiction to casino games.
And yet, it’s here they come to press their luck,

the new rank and file whose ferrous blood
obeys the ore’s magnetic tug
—the faithful summoned to Bethlehem.

Joseph Dorazio
published in Philadelphia Poets 2010, Volume 16

Written on the occasion of the grand opening of the Sands Casino
on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Mill, Bethlehem, PA

THE JOURNEY

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

START CLOSE IN

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

David Whyte, River Flow