The Cauldron of Time

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Memories buried in the cauldron of time

Last coke fires long extinguished

What was once the source of steel making

left to turn to rubble.

Hollow shells of coke ovens

buried in the hillsides

Specters of the past // once alive

Now // just ghosts…

with eyes that have no fire.

Swallowed up by nature’s blanket

overgrown and hidden

for the last seventy years.

Once beehives of life and work

Now, just crumbling brick walls

stained with memories of the past;


with names of countless men

who’s sweat and toil

were the first

to make America Great!

Coke ovens burning at night

Coke Ovens burning at night.    –   Ed West Photo

In September of 2010, two of my brothers and I went back to our hometown of Masontown, Pennsylvania where we grew up. We spent four days driving around, visiting friends, and reliving memories of our childhood. It was a wonderful time. One of the things we wanted to do was find some old Coke Ovens that were buried in the hills nearby. When I was a child, they burned day and night lighting up the hillsides like jack-o-lanterns.  The smoke poured into the air and was blown away by the wind. The gasses were burned off the coal then it was watered down and only the coke that remained. There was not EPA to worry over the environment back then. The coke was loaded into cars and hauled to Pittsburgh to fuel the steel mills.

With the help of a friend, we found some coke ovens down along the river at the little mining town patch of Mount Sterling. Most of the houses were gone and it was greatly overgrown with vegetation.  We hiked through the weeds and underbrush and found the abandoned ovens crumbling but many still in tact. We made and shared great memories on that trip back in time.

Coke oven workers

Backbreaking work day after day at the coke ovens.   –  historical archives

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Photos; Dwight L. Roth

Quicksand of Expectations

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Naturally, we view relationships through our own eyes

taking in all that we enjoy // perceiving what will be

Yet, as relationship expectations grow, the delusion increases

Wishful thinking, full of wants and needs draws us

to assumptions of crashing cataracts… leaving us dashed…

often broken on the rocks of unfulfilled expectations…

as life roars on around us // carrying away our dreams


Co-dependence is a quicksand of mutual expectations

turning a loving relationship into sinking turmoil

sucked under by our own needs and desires

to a point of suffocation


Photo: Dwight L. Roth




Beach Reflections

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Beach Reflections

Two years gone by since visiting the beach

Hearing the ocean rhythms // listening to the sea birds

Time takes its toll on this aging body

Plodding through sand with chairs in hand

Feeling the aches in the hip joint as they talk back

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Long walks on the beach left for the young

Children and grandchildren full of life and energy

Still, I love to dig in the sand // creating sculptures with my hands

Creations enjoyed for the moment then lost to high tide

A joy passed down // sons and grandsons legacy 

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There is a peacefulness at the ocean // gazing out across the vastness

A therapeutic place where my mind can wander far and wide

And wonder how the ebb and flow of this sleeping giant

keeps happening year after year // as it dances with the moon

Though our time quickly slipped away, the experience was priceless

Memories made and hugs exchanged…  as we all said goodbye

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Posting this for d’Verse Poets Pub open link night.

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

The Sweetest way to Die

The Sweetest way to Die

There’s no one at home, I don’t hear a sound

Said one tiny ant to another deep under ground

No footsteps, no TV, no voices to be heard


Tiny ants were sent out to assess the situation

Came back with the assurance, of the house’s evacuation

Time for a house party, they all shouted hurrah!


Through cracks in the floor, windows, and walls

Tiny ants marched in and went straight to the pantry

Slipped into the Wheat Thins, and crawled in the chips

But their favorite of all, Hungry Jack’s Syrupy sip

Under the lid they squeezed through the cracks

Into that bottle of heavenly smack


This is so great said one to the other

So they sipped and imbibed until all were quite hyper

Drunk on the sweetness they couldn’t find there way

back out the top, so they were stuck for the day


What will we do the tiny ants cried

How will we get out of this bottle alive

No need to worry said the tiny ant leader

This is like heaven, life couldn’t be sweeter


So they sipped and they sighed, and then they all died

For we all know too much sugar can can kill our insides

They partied their life away in a sticky death’s  dance


And when we arrived home, she said,

Oh no, we have ants!”

For our Tuesday prompt at d’Verse, Sarah asked us to write about creepy crawlers. I chose tiny ants, because when we came back from our family weekend at the beach the little buggers were all in our pantry. They were so small I could barely see them. My wife found them, and so instead of sitting down to catch our breath, we had to clean out the pantry and spray for tiny ants. This is my poem from the ants point of view. How did they know we weren’t at home??

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Summer Fun


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joy in the journey

Sea turtle rests in soft sand

High Tide is coming


Waves breach sandy wall

Sea sculpture in jeopardy

Turtle loses head 


High tide claims its own

Turtle disappears in surf

Memories forever


Photos; Dwight L. Roth

Massanutten Calls

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Proud tall Massanutten Peak rises high

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley calls

Blue Ridge mountain stands against a blushed sky

A sentinel of history’s many flaws

Only erased by erosion and time

Ghosts of Lee haunt many a hallowed hall

Calling the living to keep in their minds

Cost of division runs bloody and deep

Yet, we still have not learned with passing time


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Laura reminded us that this is the 9th day fo the 9th month. She asked us to write write a nine line poem in iambic pentameter. This is my attempt. I am not sure if it is correct, but hopefully it is close.

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Grooves of Progress

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groove through mud

tearing the landscape

Trees ripped out

Logs piled high

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Ground into chips

Shade becomes sunshine

Population increases

New developments spring up

in the blink of an eye

Muddy grooves replaced

with groovy rows of houses

“All made out of ticky-tacky…”

Today at d’Verse, we are in the groove with De Jackson.  She asked us to write a groovy poem for Quadrille Monday.

It greatly concerns me when I see the amount of development going on all around me. Houses being built five or ten at a time are popping up everywhere.  To do this, they clear-cut all the trees and grind them to shreds.  We cannot keep doing this, without irreparable damage to our environment.  The song at the end was popular back in the sixties during my college days. It is a hook that continues to run through my head.

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

The Thrill of Discovery

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I can still remember the lore of water and mud, of mountain streams, and rotten logs and  bugs under rocks.  Nature’s mysteries still draw me to get my feet in the mud, letting it squish up between my toes. One of our best learning environments is all around us.  I enjoyed watching these children searching the lake bank and under stumps for that special treasure, while totally oblivious to everything else around them. 

Nature’s mysteries

Focused… searching  intently

Treasures in lake mud


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Shoes tossed aside

Wading into discovery

“Oh, look what I found!”



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Sharing their treasures

Exciting moments in time

Mud dries between toes!

Photos: Dwight L. Roth