Dragons of Industry – A poem.

Once a day, he becomes
a dragon, filling his lungs
with burning air and exhaling
a cloud that devours him—
He waits for the greyness
to dissolve, sinking into
the hungry earth and turning
the grass even more brown.
He doesn’t know why
the earth is so hungry—
it eats whatever he exhales.
Dust from coal and dust
from oak, the steel shavings
and broken iron. Like termites
they work eternal days, stripping earth
and burrowing into the soft flesh
beneath the crusty skin. Firing and smelting
ore within his belly. Tailings pile—
building into a shapeless carcass of muck.
With shovels, they feed the slurry
that escapes his mouth
into the dying river.
When he first sprang from the earth—
a shining steel dragon—
the greenness and clarity
of water and fauna were pleasant.
Now? He’s orange and breaking,
scales flaking like gold dust
seasoning the soil with metallic
pepper. Workers scurry,
eating away at his belly as they ravage
the hollowed earth.
Once a day, he roars
at the sky, spewing ash and fire—
a red and black pillar—
as he tries to shake the parasites
from within him.


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