"American Smelting And Refining Company"by T.S. Ross
At ASARCO we played with the Dragon.
Making our way across sand, slag, and stones,
To the drainage dragon cave, cliff-face huge,
To the reptilian cloacal abyss.
Climbed down the steep cliff, inched along the lip
Stepped across mountain-ridge steep angle-tip
Blasted out of our minds, we crossed the entry
Way-Gate with an Escherian flip
Inner ears protesting, said, Welcome
To Hell, down, in the deep deep dark shadows.
Half sliding, debouched in the L-shaped cave,
Scramble, the sussuration of bellows
Guide our guests to where the land is a grave
Walls close in, darkness breathes. As Orpheus
Leads Eurydike , gathering black
Till the bend, light comes, low and sulpherous
Forbidden, we forbid all looking back,
Wend the way to the Gate of Tartarus,
This industrial dragon's lair, ASARCO,
To chilled first glimpse of this man-made Hades,
Out the back-gate, our checkpoint Alpo,
Watching for Shelob, or the Satanic
Cerberus, the dreaded Security.
Virgins lead forth by the cid-head herder
The Dragon stretched before us, moldering
Mechanical monster of a murdered
Land, our personal magical Mordor,
In the shrouded shadow of Golgotha,
The Night-forgotten Mont Cristo del Rey,
Wary of dogs, awed by Juggernaut
Fearful from hobbit as freshly dead souls,
We crept over slag to unhallowed ground
Gruesome, desolate, this barren set is
Truly worthy of Frankenstein Unbound
There ASARCO lives, breathes, and even eats.
The Dragon had killed, a oft deadly-beast.
First traces that showed depended on chance.
Three hoboes sleeping were laid to rest when
So it seems, we could see the Dragon dance
At a site hideous and unshriven
Where the dragon might show itself, and stir.
"Beep-Beep-Beep" as truck backed to edge of pit,
Halted, dripped detritus of the Refining Fire,
Slow flow of molten slag, luminescent,
Glowing, Tumbling, half-congealing jelly
Falling down to Sheol, the open grave bed
To the Dragon-kill pit, long ago horror,
Deep down in Sheol, the open grave-bed
The Dragon crapped, as we had seen. "Beep-Beep"
Went the truck's warning. Down flowed the doom
On the hapless tramps. To this day, one sees
The molded outline of their bodies, but
The bodies were burned to ash. Carbonized.
Rumor says one of them at last awoke,
For the mold showed his puzzled expression
At point Bravo, the Orange fire descended
Through the deadly fumes, across the ruined land
Marching, approach to the Dragon's secret
Treasure. The Dragon killed, preened itself, curled
Talons around the bone-yard, some rough beast
Slouching. A half-hill hid devastation,
Death-seeded, from the oblivious cars
Speeding along I-10, on their side a hill
Curtained the view. on our side, the Dragon,
Crouched, killed, feed, shit behind sheer carved cliff-wall
You see, once the people, the workers, the slaves,
Lived on site, a village called Smeltertown.
One by one, two by two, four by four, more
And more, family by family died,
Coughing the black-blood from their lungs until
They could cough no more, they died. None knew why
But we know now. Uneasy the dead did rest
For the Dragon had killed, slow consumption,
Kept the bones as a token of triumph
In the old Smeltertown cemetery,
Hidden by the scarred sepulchral half-hill.