“Coppermine Road”, posted for Open Link Night, dversepoets.com



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 a grand conspiracy

Between storm clouds and copper deep down

A particular cosmic revenge,

Enough to torch the barns

Scare the milk out of cows

And bedevil the men.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017  (from “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com 2015)


Tags: , , , , ,

36 Responses to ““Coppermine Road”, posted for Open Link Night, dversepoets.com”

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    This is a wonderful image Jane, an epic piece of landscape (sometimes I find that landscape and people become the same), the sense of disaster in the fire but still everyone just waiting. This sounds so much like something Bob Dylan could have written..

    BTW I changed you link directly to the blogpost instead of the blog, it’s so much easier to get right in that case,


  2. kanzensakura Says:

    I like this memory from your childhood. The last stanza is particularly outstanding.


  3. charliezero1.wordpress.com Says:

    The imagery in your writing is vivid and told in the most realistic approach into one’s past life. beautifully written.


  4. Sherry Blue Sky Says:

    This poem takes me back to a small town and simpler times. Right now, we have 166 forest fires burning in our province. Horrifying.


  5. Vinay Leo R. Says:

    roiling thunderstorms
    shoot daggers of lightning

    I kept going back to these lines. such a different image.


  6. Nan Mykel Says:

    Excellent. Somehow it sure feels like you know what you’r talking about!


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Well, yup! I was there! This used to be one of our favorite country events….watching the barns go up in flame over the hills, and the yowl of that hand turned siren. Life was very different back then. Thank you, Nan.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, Vinay. Life in the countryside in the 50’s-60’s. I hear they have a ‘real’ fire alarm now…and we then had a truck (fire truck)…only one, that had to be hand cranked. Imagine that.

    Thank you for reading and sending a comment.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Ah, geez, Sherry. I am so sorry about all those forest fires. I always think of the animals that die because of them. right now we just found out that Hurricane Irma is heading our way! To hit us around Monday or so as a Category 1. Better than what Miami is facing….Category 4-5. Yikes.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Charlie. I try to keep it simple. Sometimes that is the best way to express something in poetry. Thank you for reading and caring enough to send a comment! Be over tomorrow early. Right now we just found out that Hurricane Irma has made a change in direction, and around Sunday=Monday, is heading our way (unexpected@!) as a Category 1. I have never prepared before for a hurricane, something that Atlanta being land locked, doesn’t much suffer. Batten down the hatches!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Toni. Thank you for everything.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Geez, Bjorn. I didn’t realize that people were having such trouble getting to the poetry. I just thought people were a bunch of snots. LOL! Toni told me that there was a problem in this, and I have tried to address this on the blog front, whatever it’s called. Thank you.

    This is a memory from the 50’s-60’s…sitting on the hill waiting for the storms to hit and the resulting fires to start. That yowl of the hand cranked siren. There wasn’t much excitement in the countryside except for cows getting loose, fires in the barns, very little crime back then. No street lights, no stop signs, your cars floated off the bridges because the rivers and canal would rise so quickly. Actually, I guess there was a LOT of excitement back then.

    Right now we found out that Hurricane Irma is coming up our way and to hit Atlanta as a Category 1 storm or so….this is a definite surprise. I will have to learn what to do to weather this out. Never been in such a position vs. a hurricane. Will have to batten down the hatches! Thanks, Brother Bjorn.


  13. Beverly Crawford Says:

    What a wonderful word picture you’ve drawn for us of life on Coppermine Road all those years ago. I enjoyed every word!


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Beverly. I wish I was back there…time reversing. Such a simpler time. Life is too complex now, with all these adult issues of political correctness and plain politics!


  15. kanzensakura Says:



  16. Grace Says:

    I admire the richness of the landscape, though I am probably scared stiffed with watching the roiling thunderstorms ~ Yikes on the force of nature whipping and bedeviling us ~


  17. ladynyo Says:

    We were too stupid to understand lightning could kill us. I think back on the things we did as youth. Jesus! It’s a wonder we survived….to do more stupid things as adults.

    Thanks, Grace….


  18. kim881 Says:

    I commented to Toni recently that I really enjoy autobiographical poems on dVerse. They take me to places I would otherwise not know about and are mini adventures into other poets’ lives. I love the description of the thunderstorms – we don’t have many epic ones over here – ours seem to be over in a flash! And we don’t have mountains anywhere near where I live – Norfolk is pancake flat. We do have a very large forest in Norfolk, though,Thetford Forest, which has suffered from fires, but it’s quite a long way from me – about halfway to London..
    Your recollections of ‘roiling thunderstorms’ and ‘daggers of lightning’ and fire ‘Torching the barns’ are the stuff of cinema. Just the name Coppermine Road’ conjures up all kinds of images. My favourite lines:
    ‘Perhaps a grand conspiracy
    Between storm clouds and copper deep down
    A particular cosmic revenge’.


  19. petrujviljoen Says:

    A vignette of how things were … I appreciated the lines:
    ”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.”

    The ”or worse” conjured up quite the scene!


  20. ladynyo Says:

    That ‘worse’ sometimes happened. Black eyes, brawls, etc. Back then, men used their fists, not guns or other weapons. It was a simpler time, indeed. I do remember my father having a black eye. I don’t think I was ever really told the truth, but some man went a bit crazy, and threatened to kill himself. He had a family. My father tried to restrain him and he was hit. These things happened, but it seems that, unlike today, grudges weren’t carried by the men. The wives did that.

    Thank you Petru, for reading and your comment.


  21. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Kim. I think writing autobiographical poems is a way for me to hold on to a life that has disappeared for me. The rural setting of childhood, the beauty of the old Dutch landscape with their barns and big multi generational houses, the canal built in 1832 where the tow path is lined with the graves of the Irish laborers (typhoid deaths), the pre and post Revolutionary War history….the frantic and dangerous stunts we pulled as children. All these things are faded into the mists. Now? We lead such placid lives, except when we don’t. I enjoy reading other poets memories in poetry form or otherwise. These are the fables we pass along to our children, if we have them. There was great misery, tragedy, and pure living in those memories.

    Thank you, Kim. I’ll post “Night Fire Road” someday on OLN. Now, that is a name and a story! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. petrujviljoen Says:

    The wives had learned to keep quiet so they kept grudges. Men could express themselves through their fists and gin.


  23. kim881 Says:

    I look forward to it!


  24. Alwi Shatry Says:

    What better tribute to the past than relive it with such vibrant imagery.


  25. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you…my sentiments exactly.


  26. ladynyo Says:


    Liked by 1 person

  27. Walter J. Wojtanik Says:

    Wow, Jane! This is incredible poetry. The story flows so purely and I feel every nuance of this place. Love this.


  28. Frank Hubeny Says:

    Very nice description of fighting fires caused by lightning. I liked the “Dutch-elmed darkness” and the Dutch “Leaving little of worth” which suggesting poverty. I also liked the suggestion of “cosmic revenge” adding a sense of the ominous.


  29. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank. The Dutch ‘leaving little of worth’ was meant to express that they mined out the copper. If you think of it, it was all done with hammer and chisels. The deeper veins would have to take modern machinery. Perhaps it was never attempted because there wasn’t much copper left, but I don’t know.
    The Dutch Elms died many years ago. A blight, plague, whatever it is called. There has been a new strand of Elm created that is resistant to the “Dutch Elm Diseasse” but they aren’t as robust as the old trees. Black Walnuts and Dutch Elms were extensive when I was a child…though the elms were mostly disappearing. Thank you, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Walter. I think many of us poets write ‘best’ when we draw on our childhood, direct experiences, etc. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have to scramble for words so much. It’s in there, in our memories and probably our DNA. The poetry is simplified by this I believe.

    I’ll be over later to read, Walter. I’ve been up all night worried about the Hurricane, and need to catch some sleep. Thank you, again.


  31. sarahrussellpoetry Says:

    An imagistic narrative about the people as well as the land. A wonderful write.


  32. qbit Says:

    That is beautiful — evocative, simple language but complex ideas.


  33. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, qbit….it didn’t seem complex. Just a memory of childhood! That you, qbit. But I agree with the simple language. I think some times we poets twist ourselves into pretzels trying to write profound. LOL!


  34. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sarah. Your comment certainly works for me! The people and the landscape are always, at least to me, a part of the whole.


  35. paul scribbles Says:

    Such a descriptive and evocative scene full of colour and bright imagery and I just love the name Sourlands. Just perfect.


  36. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Paul. The Sourland mountains were old as the hills. LOL! Beaten down by rains and whatever shortens mountains. I could see the outline miles away from these hillsides.

    I believe poetry is easiest when you are describing memories or landscape, etc. from childhood. The details stick in the mind. Thank you, Paul.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: