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I am sure some of you have gone through cancer treatment at some point in your life. All of us know of friends or family who have been through this as well. It is my understanding that it is not a pleasant experience for anyone to go through. In many cases it does extend life for several years and more sometimes. This poem is for an extended family member who has gone through cancer treatment and is now doing well.  I wrote this at the time, but decided to wait to publish it.

“She lost her hair today;”
A sad message indeed.
We knew it was going to happen;
But reality makes it more intense.
Toxic mess dripping into her veins
Cuts hair off at the roots…
Lets it slid off in bunches in her hands.
It must be an awful blow to one’s self
A most humbling external loss.
Makes us realize what sacrifice it takes
  For her to go on living

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

I am posting this for Open link night at d’Verse Poets Pub. It was great to see some of you on the live meeting this afternoon. I am not sure why my microphone would not work. This is the poem I would have read. I will try a different laptop next time and see if that helps.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com then click the Mr. Linky box to read more poems.

Backbreaking Work

Coke ovens burning at night (2019_01_22 16_45_08 UTC)

When I think of hard labor, I think of the people I knew from my childhood who worked in the coal and coke industry of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Coal miners worked in dusty dangerous conditions deep in the ground. Once the coal was brought to the surface, it was burned in coke ovens for a period of time to get the gasses out of it leaving a pure carbon that burned hotter than coal. Shoveling coke from the ovens was exhausting work. The heat from the ovens made working conditions barely tolerable. In the early days it was all done by hand as you see in the photo below. Later they had machines to help with the loading of the ovens and the train cars. Many workers died young from Black Lung, created by breathing the coal dust. Today most of the remaining ovens are buried beneath the overgrowth of nature.

Hard labor // coal dust

Brings early death for many

Cars and bridges built

Coke oven workers

Coke ovens Larry cars

Photos from: Ed West

Last September my two brothers and I made a trip back to our home community to see what was left of our memories. A friend told us about a set of coke ovens that was not far off the highway. We climbed through the weeds and brush and found them deteriorating, but still in tact. It was a wonderful find. See the photos below.

Ovens and tombstones

Still remain to tell the tale

Backbreaking labor

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

On this Labor Day at d’Verse. Frank Tassone asked us to write a Haibun that relates to labor.  I decided to remind all of us how many people worked in hard labor conditions to provide the materials necessary to make steel. Much of this country was built with steel made from the work of these hard working men.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com


Grandpa White and Grandpa White 001

On this Memorial Day weekend we remember the lives lost in wars fought on foreign soil or at sea.  When I see the rows and rows of white crosses in the field at Normandy, I am sad for the lives that never became doctors, teachers, or presidents. I am struck by the importance of remembering those who are gone. It is necessary so they are not lost in the passing of time. It is important to remember so that perhaps we can learn from the past and not repeat the history that brought death to so many young men, who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  We must remember those we love and care about.


What does it mean to remember someone

How does it affect us

To remember is to give life to the past

Remembering actions a smile or special connection

A parent who is gone a lost love or a soldier who has died

We raise statues in tribute to the famous

Or put stars on a walk of fame

Remembering helps pass on values and virtues

Reinforcing what we consider to be truth

Remembering covers a wide range

From sacrifice to nurture to accomplishment

For some remembering is a painful experience

Of evil done or atrocities we witnessed

Some wish not to remember but find it necessary

For healing and renewal for the future

Some remember again and again year after year

Because of the contributions given to their wellbeing

We remember those we love

Because one day we will become those persons

Hopefully remembered by those who love us

 As someone who live life well


Photo of three generations: Dwight L. Roth




I am Surrounded


Christians around the world are celebrating Good Friday and remembering the suffering sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the World. The hope that arises out of the crucifixion and the resurrection on Sunday is that there is hope an life beyond this life. People of faith know that death is not the end and when this physical body is gone the spiritual soul returns to God who gave us life. For generations our forefathers have believed and died in faith that they will continue on living in the presence of God and whatever that entails.  This Bible passage from Hebrews 12 speaks of them as heroes of faith. I have taken the liberty to paraphrase this expression into a song I wrote some time ago.

I Am Surrounded

I am surrounded by the Saints gone before

By the angels in heaven and God on His Throne

By His holy son Jesus and the ancients of old

I am surrounded in His praise ever more


I’ll throw off what hinders… the sins that drag me down

Run the race set before me… I’ll endure for the crown

I’ll fix my eyes on Jesus… the source of my faith

I’ll see how He suffered… how He took my place


I will not grow weary… I know I must not lose heart

For Jesus my Savior… I’ll gladly do my part

Now I’ve come to Mount Zion… City of the Living God

To the Church of the First Born… To be cleansed by His blood


I’m happy in Jesus… by his grace I am free

His spirit lives in me… Awesome power I see

When my life here has ended… To that City I’ll rise

To sing with the angels… in that heavenly choir


(For) I am surrounded by the Saints gone before

By the angels in heaven and God on His Throne

By His holy son Jesus and the ancients of old

I am surrounded in His praise ever more


Hebrews 12 Paraphrase DLR

Vs.9-18-04 & 9-1-11  NIV

Photo: Dwight L. Roth



Ants in the Universe


Ants in the Universe

Pesky little creatures

Smaller than a pencil point

Swarming up to protect their kingdom

Sacrificing themselves under my foot

Crawling up on my shoe


Looking for a piece of flesh

Leaving their imprint in my skin

Tiny dots of poison destroying flesh


Lasting six months or more

Itchy reminders of that harsh encounter

Reminds me of humans

Attempting to save themselves

In a universe beyond their comprehension

Leaving scars on the foot of God

Trying keep us in control

Sacrificing ourselves at all cost

In a universe we know nothing about