Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This is a lengthy poem that I wrote touching on the history and the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I plan to share it in three sections. Thanks for reading it.

Southwest Pennsylvania

I’ve heard the Monongahela rush through wooded glade
And smelled the richness of your soil as it’s turned by spade.
I’ve walked your verdant valleys and climbed your gentle hills.
Been told tales of “revenuers” hunting for “shine” stills.
A few of your farmers still walk behind horse and plow.
I’ve seen tired miners trudge home with coal dust darkened brow.
Pennsylvania, your rivers were gateways to the west,
Your wilderness was haven for those who were oppressed.
Your mountains rise as monuments to all who were slain
In lands purchased with sacrifice of blood, sweat, and pain.

I’ve walked the Youghiogheny, fishing her small streams too
Awed as bright morning light sparkles on blankets of dew.
I’ve eaten buckwheat cakes in golden-brown steaming stacks
And walked in fields that were cleared of trees by sweat and axe.
I’ve been to Ohiopyle and rafted waters white,
Visiting Fallingwater and Kentuck; homes built by Wright.
Your lands are rich with history’s strong cultural mix.
Your life blood still flows in your rivers and “cricks.”
You’re a diverse land born of your people and places,
A heritage that’s etched in your son’s hearts and faces.

I’ve walked the land at “the Point” where three rivers meet,
A land where the French and English trod with marching feet.
Great beehive ovens were built to bake huge piles of coke.
Steel was forged in your factories amid flames and smoke.
Mountain laurel grows with pale blooms and dark leaves.
I’ve watched women working their looms, making rag rug weaves.
Your daughters and sons dared to live in wild frontier lands
Carving homes and farms from the wilderness with bare hands.
The harshness of their world was deeply etched on each face;
Hunting, clearing, planting, fighting: all to claim their space.

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