An Elegy For Industry- Timothy Tarkelly

elegy Timothy T

The city air is cleaner now,

but they hate the smell.

It is hollow like a song

sung without meaning.

Their nostrils

long for the harsher, quilled

haze of industrial fumes

that speak: “the city lives

and has the body odor,

the factory breath to prove it.”

Clean air is sweet,

too sweet, repulsive

to the workers at home,

pretending there is not a problem,

as if the kids haven’t figured it out

on their own.


The streets are empty of purpose,

but filled with stoop smokers,

children long since tired

of their stomping grounds.

Playing is habit,

as is longingly looking

at the sky, suddenly bright

and pumping with color,

animals, clouds

(the non-artificial sort),

and the occasional dusty trail

of a plane that would never dare steer close

to this city of all cities.


They’d cheer for their children’s lungs

if they weren’t so scared

for their bellies,

for the new and far latitude

where the sky still swallows black

while a different set of hands

draws, pours,


the oil and works the curves

of the machines

the city weeps for.

Image and text by Timothy Tarkelly

Timothy Tarkelly has an MA in Theatre (Drama Therapy) from Kansas State University. His poems have been featured by Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, Poets & War, and Aphelion. He is a member of the National Writers Union (UAW local 1981) and is on the National Committee of the Social Democrats, USA. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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