“Coppermine Road”



Coppermine Road


When I was a child

Sitting on a hill

In south-central Jersey,

I would watch the roiling thunderstorms

Shoot daggers of lightning

Across hills of the Sourland Mountains

Setting fires to forests,


Torching the barns.


 The hand-cranked siren would yowl

And all men over 21

Would answer the call.

To lurk under jacked-up cars,

To pitch hay,

Run the combine

Or start the evening milking

Would get you the cold shoulder

Or worse…

In the local gin mill.


Coppermine Road had

A ton of fires,

This gateway to the Sourlands

Stretching miles into Dutch-elmed darkness

As we watched

First the lightning

Then smoke rise into the air,

And heard the howl of the siren

In the valley below.


 Mined out, this coppermine,

 Emptied before the Revolution

The sturdy Dutch taking their

Share from the earth,

Leaving little of worth, just the name,

The scars of digging plastered over in time.


Perhaps it was a grand conspiracy

Between storm clouds and copper deeper down

A particular cosmic revenge,

Enough to torch the barns

Scare the milk out of cows

And bedevil the men.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

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16 Responses to ““Coppermine Road””

  1. Pat Hatt Says:

    LOL love the last lines, don’t know if I should have laughed, but scaring the milk out of cows was great. Not a call I’d want to answer either.


  2. ladynyo Says:


    Yeah, not something to pass over…lol! Poor cows.
    Yep, the community star was on all men over the age of 21….and there were fistfights that broke out when someone was sitting sipping his beer and determined (by others) to be shirking his duty.

    Thank you, Pat for reading and your comment!



  3. Elizabeth Young Says:

    To sit as a child and witness such cyclic devastation left a scar on you as well as the land and animals. Beautifully written with honesty, empathy and a healthy respect for Mother Nature. Thank you Jane.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Elizabeth! You are so right! I didn’t think of this that way, but yes….and I can’t go back there…to the scene of my childhood, because my father is dead and my mother sold the property. I would be an alien now. Yes, there are psychic scars on me, and your pointing this out is just another important piece of the puzzle.

    Your own insight has shocked me to my toenails…..thank YOU, Elizabeth. I think I have been avoiding some serious issues.

    With love,


  5. poemblaze Says:

    Great poem. Am fond of “Stretching into Dutch-elmed darkness.” We had dutch elms around our farmhouse when I was young.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Poemblaze!

    Yes, Dutch elms were beautiful and stately trees….but they got the Dutch-Elm disease and so many died I think in the 50’s…They were a staple around our territory.

    Thank you so much for reading “Coppermine Road” and your comment. I’ll make the rounds tomorrow and be sure to read your site.



  7. David Caruso Says:

    a well-told, captivating piece. each stanza brought me deeper into the mine of the poem.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, David.

    I wasn’t too sure about this poem. But it’s hard to tell about your own poetry. Usually you fall in love with it or hate it. This one I felt I was sitting on the fence. But perhaps Elizabeth is right: I am ambivalent because there are some scars that I hadn’t noticed, but did feel uncomfortable.

    Thank you, David for reading and your comment. I learn so much from the critiques of other poets.



  9. brian miller Says:

    it is pretty frightening to stand in the face of the awesomeness of a storm…esp when you know what it can do…and the devastation it can leave…they have always entranced me though…it is a bit different for you but i like it…your story telling still shines but in a different way…


  10. Chazinator Says:

    This brings back some shared memories of farmland for me. Your recollection is filled with details that show both a fondness and perhaps some of the terror you experienced. I really enjoy poems that call up pictures of a past that become something like a little taste of eternity. That’s the past seems like when recalled with such clarity and understanding.


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Charles…

    That’s a very insightful comment and I think you have nailed it for me, too. Fondness and terror. I like what you said about a little taste of eternity. Perhaps that is what childhood is all about?

    Thank you, Charles…yet again I learn from readers more about my own poetry than I could have on my own.

    Lady Nyo


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Brian.

    I was always sitting on a hill, and watching this off in the middle distance. I think when you are a child, you don’t know the dangers around you.

    These tornadoes that have swept the Mid West and the South are very much different though. I would run for shelter fast enough!

    Poetry is just shorter story telling in many ways, neh?

    Thanks Brian…always.



  13. Steve King Says:

    Very insightful, naturally flowing words and lines. I can see what you’re seeing…(‘transparency’ might be the best way for me to describe the effect of the writing). We had many elms here in Albany, NY. There are purportedly still a few that survived.
    This is a great look at a time past. Very nice work in this poem.


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Steve!

    It’s a sad poem for me…I moved many years ago to the South, to Atlanta, and the environment, etc…is very different. No stately elms down here that I know of…just oaks, and pecans, and more oaks…..they are HUGE trees, though. No black walnuts that I know of, either.

    Again, thank you, Steve…for reading and your lovely comment. Please kiss the ground of the North for me. I will always be a Yankee. I am an alien in an alien territory after 40 plus years here still.

    Lady Nyo


  15. Steve E Says:

    When, at age 18, I lived for 8 (1951) weeks in a music camp near Brevard, NC…it took me about 5 days to assimilate myself into the ‘southern’ culture–language and all! Just put a hook in my nose, and pull the chain–grin! (In reference to your being an Illegal Alien in Atlanta.

    Anyhow, Yankee, this is not about divisions of our great country, it is regarding memories of early life…and you took me right along (nose ring and chain!) as I watched the same storms ride right up the Ohio River Valley.

    I lay on my back, way back in the 30-acre piece of hayfield, and seeing our farmhouse in the distance, it look like a replica of the house in Kansas. While wondering if I’d wind up on the Yellow Brick Road, all I did was get soaking wet, and catch a cold, running home to beat the lightning strikes all around me–HA!

    You write GOOD, Lady NYO, and paint nice pictures with your keyboard.. I DID expect though, that maybe a storm might scare the calf out of the cow! (Got a story about that, also!!!)



  16. ladynyo Says:

    ROTF! Steve!

    I leave them calves in them cows…..LOL!

    Yep, same situation….though I DO remember a night, a very black night, as they all were in the countryside…no street lights there and still aren’t….when the Northern Lights came down to south-central Jersey, and they were like ribbons in the sky! I thought the other day I had dreamed this, but no, others saw them, too. Only happened once when I was young, but I never forgot this effect of solar power or mystical, magical cosmos influence. It opened up the Universe to me like nothing ever has.

    You (and I) were lucky that we weren’t toast by lightning. It happens, friend…it happens.

    Thanks, Steve, for reading and your lovely and funny comment.



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