The Ashes of the Dying

county of lackawanna

by Brian Rush

I wrote “The Ashes of the Dying” for a creative writing class at Lackawanna College. I wanted to write a piece that reflected the history of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and shed light on what makes Scranton unique and rich in subject matter. Many people know Scranton nationwide, thanks in part to the television series “The Office,” but I also feel that many outsiders look at Scrantonians as characters on a TV show. Scranton is a city with its own set of characters, that’s for sure, but we are so much more that. Before I wrote this poem, I researched the people, events, and history that made this city what it is today. I can never do the city justice with such a small piece, but I wanted to include the beauty and blemishes of the past that made this city so great.

The Ashes of the Dying

Electric City, Coal Country, town of Steam,
City of potholes and long winters,
Lined with broken railway cars, abandoned mines, and crumbling monuments;
Sixth-largest city in Pennsylvania on any given parade day,
Washed-up industrial juggernaut of railroads and mines,
Echoing the past with whispers from the elders,
Black lungs and callused hands revealing a past,
Offering proof to those who heard the tales but failed to believe,
Iron Furnaces that forged jobs in sweat and blood;
City of rails, dividing and colliding us;
Cities rising and falling;
Freighthoppers in search of anthracite,
A city built by Italian and European immigrants,
A city built and destroyed by coal,
Patrons reminiscing at bars offer no solace to this busted town,
Young Scrantonians don’t remember a better time;
All that remains of Scranton and its accomplishments
Are kept locked away in basements and attics of the dying,
And Scranton is an ongoing joke,
playing out in syndication on NBC.


Brian Rush is a graduate of Lackawanna College, earning an Associates degree in human services and currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in professional writing. He is interested in perusing a career in the literary arts. 

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