The Air Smelled Dirty Poem by Marge Piercy

The Air Smelled Dirty

Rating: 4.0

Everyone burned coal in our neighborhood,
soft coal they called it from the mountains
of western Pennsylvania where my father
grew up and fled as soon as he could, where
my Welsh cousins dug it down in the dark.

The furnace it fed stood in the dank
basement, its many arms upraised
like Godzilla or some other monster.
It was my job to pull out clinkers
and carry them to the alley bin.

Mornings were chilly, frost on windows
etching magic landscapes. I liked
to stand over the hot air registers
the warmth blowing up my skirts.
But the basement scared me at night.

The fire glowed like a red eye through
the furnace door and the clinkers fell
loud and the shadows came at me as
mice scampered. The washing machine
was tame but the furnace was always hungry.

Mahtab Bangalee 31 May 2020

the air now, the environment of the world fire of burning furnace not, o not only in nature but also in race, in culture, in politics, in economy, neighborhood country diplomacy...... o yes, now the air, the nose of the earth smelling dirty....

2 0 Reply
Kumarmani Mahakul 31 May 2020

Air is polluted due to burning of coal by neighborhood is well executed by you. A beautiful poem. Congratulation for being chosen this poem as the modern poem of the poem of the day.

0 0 Reply
Anil Kumar Panda 31 May 2020

Burning of coal gives toxic smoke. Nice write.

1 0 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 31 May 2020

Coal burning! ! The air smelled dirty! ! ! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

1 0 Reply
Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy

Detroit, Michigan
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