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Information about Harry Youtt is provided at his publisher's website.
Harry Youtt's website.
UCLA Extension Writers' Program
These poems are from I'LL ALWAYS BE FROM LORAIN
LIBRARY IN THE GROVE
Midst a darker grove of trees in that city of darker
and the long lawn between the trees
criss-crossed by dim-lighted pathways at night,
and standing alone against the sharp blue darkness
-- the old brick library,
window-lighted on both of its floors
when things inside were active.
The boy was certain that down in the dark of the
Arthur and his Knights were dreaming,
sleeping their long sleep until they were needed,
huddled against each other for warmth.
and concealed inside a deep clay cave
scooped from under the flourishing roots of tallest
They awaited only the signal to action,
the almost-whispered call of that tiny librarian
whose passion in this life it always was
to enrapture children’s minds,
infuse them with possibilities that always
burst upward from imagination’s universal mantra:
"Once upon a time . . ."
Hearing this quiet proclamation drift out
through a slightly opened window
of the story room upstairs,
a single groved horse would whinny,
tentative at first, as if clearing its deep throat,
and then another horse would answer, and another.
Hooves would stomp, and crackled leaves would rustle;
shields and swords and armor would clank,
and then hoof beats would suddenly gallop Arthur and
across the grove with only shadows of them visible
in low light from street lamps
With a rush and a rumble, in they would burst,
through the double doors, onto the first floor,
scattering the tattered runner-rugs and
almost upsetting the glassed arrays of new books,
and then, clattering up the rickety wooden staircase
-- and into the story room to greet the floored
open-mouthed children, whose faces never flinched.
No one from the reading room or even from the stacks
would ever even think to try and shoosh them.
Now, fifty, no, almost sixty years later
the mouth of the boy inside the man-grown-old
but never grown too old for new stories, or old
hangs open, at the vision of that grand and dark
birthday cake of a library building
in the middle of that darker grove,
and Arthur and his Knights, roused from their long
pounding through the magic all around,
And in the center of every possibility,
always that tiny librarian.
IN THE GRAND OLD BLAST FURNACE DAYS
In the grand old blast furnace days,
they’d be roaring constant,
smoke belching from every smokestack,
and 28th Street with all of its
beer-scented bars and saloons
ready to welcome the end of a shift.
Clouds of smoke and white steam,
billowing up and angling into the sky,
like some devil-ship, locked solid into the land,
and at any hour of deep night was an orange glow
lighting up the darkness into twilight, all night –
the kind of glow that only visits the city of
and only while it flourishes.
Thousands working 3-to-11, 7-to-3, 11-to-7
swing shifting with whistles blowing,
and sirens – yes, sometimes sirens,
and always factory-belch and groan,
hard work and no complaining,
or everybody complaining,
depending on who you listened to,
with seamless mills and the line for continuous weld
hungry always for fresh ingot,
and the blast furnaces eager to comply.
When the wind was right, on warm nights
would be this ripe smell of what people said
was like rotten eggs –
they called it Hell’s aroma, and it was, and yet
when you closed your eyes on it, you could smile
– it was the smell of work going strong
and never going to let up, the smell released
from toil of leather-aproned heroes, perspiring
and standing back, shielding faces from bright glow
and flashing spark of new steel that was ladle-poured
and wrought just now before their eyes
-- almost ready to ship to the world.
October leaves of Lorain trees would flash
bright yellow and red and also crackle-brown
and flutter down to blanket the lawns
and have to be swept into heaps
at the paved aprons of driveways
and than burned on still days –
with smoke meandering upward
in the low light quiet parts of the dwindling days.
And old men and young boys would go outside
with scraping rakes and packs of matches,
just for a chance to stand in the smoke
and breathe deeply.
It was the women who wanted
the blankets of leaves cleared from the lawns
and kept from blowing into nuisances.
The men didn’t care about that;
they only loved to stand around and smell the smoke
-- and dream their visions.
Old men and young boys would stand and let the air
crispen around them
as the late sun disappeared on schedule,
earlier today than yesterday
and much earlier than last Saturday
when it still was Daylight Savings Time.
And in the darkening, the cores of burning leaf piles
would glow bright orange, like new-poured slag,
brightening faces of the old men and the young boys,
warming them, as they stood, leaning on rakes,
talking about the Browns and the Buckeyes,
telling tales about summer fish,
and beginning to wonder what’s for dinner..
FISH FRY AT THE MOOSE HALL
Summer Fridays the Moose Hall on Broadway
would be deep-frying whole pickerel,
fresh off the fishing boats docked in the river --
would serve the pickerel on paper plates,
with copious tartar sauce
-- French fries and cole slaw.
People would sit on folding wooden chairs
at long tables covered with white paper,
sipping new-tapped beer in frosted glasses
from the bar, marveling at the bounty,
while my Uncle Harold
in short sleeved dress shirt and bolo tie
sat silent, as he always did,
picking over the bones with a slow fork,
and only nodding for a moment
with unsmiling face
to someone down the line
who’d be saying,
didn’t this taste even better