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Kiln photo edit.jpg

My mother's father, the second child from left (with a hat), worked with his family to make charcoal to earn cash, incredibly dirty hard work. I got to wondering about the photographer and what these people would have thought of him.

The poem, Kiln Photo published in June of 2016 online at

Kiln Photo

The top hat twill coated reporter left a yellowed

photo of our charcoal kiln its ancient process

frozen by this game faced stranger with tripod

camera and gunpowder flash. We five all young

in white shirts flat brimmed hats even our teeth

soot dusted suspected this stranger paid for no-

sweat work and way too clean some city guy

yap talkin.’ Cousin Ozey put him right with "We  

work hard and honest and we do not know you.

Once that pit gets fired there's no backin' down."

Ozey had heard cameras freeze a soul to paper. 

I stacked the logs in square rows for circulation

Jamie crawled the middle packed in the kindling

we ganged the top and sealed it in and set it all

to blazing. Camera man took our pictures, suspicion

right there on our faces but nothing slowed this guy

him packing into his covered wagon working under

a heavy black blanket said he was developing. No

one wanted the photo but me so I scratched it with

my fingernail but found no souls probably cause

this work is so damned hard our souls burned

away. Nailed the photo to my wall grandkids like

to wonder at my past. I look it before I sleep cause  

it always takes me just so far away.                            

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