Towers of Babel

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How quickly time covers

structures once thought permanent

lost and forgotten

leaving them now crumbling

as nature swallows them up

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Time and nature

having been here before us

will win in the end

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As we foolishly

think our towers of babel

will be our answer

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

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;

Unsigned…

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

Stacked (Haiku)

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Rocks carefully stacked

Withstood one hundred winters

Roots and bushes grow

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Walls last a lifetime

Ditches remain // water flows

Still hold back the bank

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Corners stacked plumb

Unmoved by ice, rain, or snow

Steps long gone with time

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Skilled craftsmen laid stone

with precision and great pride

It outlived them all

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Photos are of the stone wall across from the Leckrone Company Store, near Masontown, Pa. It is stacked stone without mortar that has lasted many years. My understanding is that it was the retaining wall in front of the old post office that still sits in overgrown brush on the hillside above the wall.  I took these photos when my two brothers and I visited my home town last weekend. We went back to remember, and dig up some bits and pieces of our past life when we were young more than fifty years ago.