Looking at Silver Linings

I decided to participate in Monty Vern’s June poetry challenge to write a “Silver Lining” poem. This poem is a take on the Golden Shovel where you take a line from a poem and use each word in order as the end word in each line of your own poem. The difference between the Golden Shovel and the Silver Lining is that in the Silver Lining you are allowed to leave out unimportant articles like “the” and “a” and some prepositions, retaining the dominant words. I tried, really I did, but gold outshines silver every time. So even though I did try to leave out the little words it just didn’t happen. If it is really important a distinction just drop them as you read and see if it makes everything better… Monty gave a list of 3 lines from various poets. As soon as I saw Carl Sandburg on the list I knew I was in.

“A molten gold flows away from the sun.” from “Evening Sea Wind” by Carl Sandburg

The hammer raised falls, slag shoots a
Gray heat not so removed from molten
Iron once a bright glowing gold
Now dulled as heat rolls and life flows
The men start with vigor but it fades away
And the toil wears them faster from
Any soul abrasions industry devises the
Furnace is their heart and their sun

Sandburg wrote about industry around Chicago and this is something I’ve been near in may ways – geographically and that Sparky worked for a Steel Company for many years (thankfully not in the foundry). The vision of these “men of steel” has stayed with me. They start out young and end up with stress fractures and bent and ready for the scrap heap. But not before they have produced sons eager to take up where their fathers left off. And though that is a biased point of view, many would defend the decision to work in the mills. They say it is a good job with good pay and excellent benefits. It provided their families with a home and food and money to pay for a boat and trips to the lake. And that is true. I suppose it is all about choice and perspective…

43 thoughts on “Looking at Silver Linings

    1. Reading your reply on a day when I see all over again that I hate my job. It contributes to a happy and stable life for the family just as yours did but it’s destroying my happiness as well.


      1. Hugs dear! I hope that you can find that kernel of joy or a path to a different job. I stayed in a job for 28 years that made me unhappy (it wasn’t the work but the boss). I found healthy coping methods and was able to out last all the people who had been the source of my angst.

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        1. Today I wonder if I’m being broken like this so that when I’m offered some different, I will take it despite my fear of leaving and starting all over. Or is it to tell me that what lies beyond is worse…


  1. There were words and lines which struck so deep today. It feels like I gave God everything…my youth, my vigour…got nothing left now, my jar of oil is empty… and yet the blows continue to fall and to make demands of me…


    1. Gifts to God are never in vain. It is all perspective. Everything is infused with choice. I hope you can find a way to a different job and if that is not a choice you want to make, I hope you can find some peace. Sometimes we have to embrace the suffering to get closer to God…

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  2. I worked in the garment industry and spent time in textile mills. And I knew someone well who worked in a manufacturing plant. It’s hard and sometimes dangerous work, yet there is satisfaction in actually producing something instead of just moving money or ideas or paper around. I myself never liked designing on a computer–I like to feel it with my hand. But working conditions can always be improved.

    Thus is a good prompt–I wish I had time for more than one or two a week. But I must accept my limitations. (K)

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    1. I find the sonnet a challenging form so it may be easy for you but much harder for me… Then of course we all face challenges. Some we meet and do battle with while others cause us to retreat.

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  3. I live near Pittsburgh (“Steel City”–though no mills within the city limits anymore, only in the surrounding areas). Mill workers, miners and more–there are so many jobs that are difficult and dangerous. My brothers and sisters in these jobs are among my benefactors who I pray for regularly. An excellent poem, Muri.


  4. You are in the world of poetry like a fish in water. What ease! What mastery of language and versification techniques! What an inspiration! Compliments, Val
    Love ❤


  5. you’ve captured the foundry ‘feel’ well in this Val … I grew up near a huge steelworks. Some of those foundry workers went on to forge the “tap dogs” … tap dancers who made it so big they employed many such men to tap around the dance floors 😉


        1. I bet – war and a tight job pool usually has seen women move into what had been male dominated fields… Some might have even put on tap shoes – but I suspect most were in the audience!

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  6. I grew up in a steel city with the steel plant fuelling dreams of my generation as our fathers toiled in the plant.
    Excellent work with the form, Val. You always inspire me to test my limits. ❤️


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