While researching for this project, I stumbled across the poetry of Robert Gibb. Gibb was born in Homestead and worked in the steel mill, and his poetry reflects both the strength and shuddering loss of the people of Homestead. His words echo a sense of disenchantment that I think rings true for many people who call Homestead their home town. I included some excerpts of his poetry below, as well as a link to a review of his work from the Post-Gazette.
Whose rusts still tint the opening blossoms Of the dogwood and bleed through the cast-off
Metals of scrap heaps and corroding sheds. These days, down there, men can’t even make
The living promised to the bread of their sweat. It will take some getting used to the dead
Gray light in Homestead, the mill shore as naked As the shaved skin around a scar.
Time getting used to the Warsaw Of boarded and burned-out stores,
Blocks of rubble where my father’s office stood And traffic stopped as the gates clanged down,
The great train of names on the boxcars Came rumbling past.
–excerpt from poem “The Employments of Time in Homestead” by Robert Gibb, found in The Burning World, copyright 2004 University of Arkansas Press
…Cooled off, we reenter That kingdom of heat where the soles Of our shoes start to smoulder, Shirts flower with holes like small, Dark stars….until, finally, we are Walking on fire as if born to it, Burning by our bodies, the candles Of the spine. Even outside We can smell it, sitting exhausted And smoking in a last blue of heaven The color of steel.
–excerpt from poem “Entering the Oven” by Robert Gibb, in Origins of Evening, copyright 1998 W. W. Norton