Tom Sheehan


The Hour Falling Light Touches Rings of Iron
(at the First Iron Works of America, Saugus, MA)

You must remember,
Pittsburgh is not like this,
would never have been found
without the rod bending right here,

sucked down by the earth.
This is not the thick push
of the three rivers’ water
hard as name calling…

Allegheny, Susquehanna
and the old Monongahela,
though I keep losing the Ohio.
This is the Saugus River,

cut by Captain Kidd’s keel,
bore up the ore barge heavy
the whole way from Nahant.
Mad Atlantic bends its curves

to touch our feet, oh anoints.
Slag makes a bucket bottom
feed iron rings unto water,
ferric oxides, clouds of rust.

But something here there is
pale as dim diviner’s image,
a slight knob and knot of pull
at a forked and magic willow.

You see it when smoke floats
a last breath over the river road,
the furnace bubbling upward
a bare acidic tone for flue.

With haze, tonight, the moon
crawls out of Vinegar Hill,
the slag pile throws eyes
a thousand in the shining,

charcoal and burnt lime thrust
thick as wads up a nose.
Sound here’s the moon burning
iron again, pale embers

of the diviner’s image loose
upon the night. Oh, reader,
you must remember,
Pittsburgh is not like this.

Iron Wrought Accessories

It is only sad nights
after long falling-down sad days
that I hear the angular
and inordinate breathing
of bellows’ leather
and the greaseless roll
of waterwheel axle
sounding like old barn doors
in an economy of wind.
Think of a sooty black
Scotsman, rushed off a moor
or tarn, obligated
to an iron barrow
by servitude
as vile as cancer,
the haunt of heather
smelling up his
sleepless nights,
or a boy
soft in the face,
hard brown in arms
leather-tough,
dreaming of books,
how words run into magic
In a corner of his mind,
a little each day
breaks down,
breaks down.
The quill snaps
without the hand grasp.
Iron pours from a sea-green vapor
Into sow bars in sand molds.
Someone besides the Scotsman
or the boy, slams the hammer
to fine cut nails, draws down
to doctor an ax head, a hinge,
an edge for cutting.
The furnace is like that,
There are hot spots,
cool spots, a degree
of happening. More
than wood burns,
more than lime
passes on;
a heart, an infusible desire,
a short sigh of a word
breaking in every component –
IRON – IRON – IRON!

Download the PDF of this article here: Sheehan