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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Great Salem Fire--June 25, 1914

Possessions: Salem 1914


When the chemicals ignited,

The ones used for patent leather,

Flames scorched up the elevator

To the factory floor. Celluloid


Bags burned and bales of cheap sheep skins

Torched and curled to ash in minutes.

Out of the hollow a fire storm

Took Carr Brothers, then Dane Machine;


Workers jumped out opened windows.

Canal Street caught flaring embers.

The mansions of Lafayette Street

Were swept away. Dynamiting


Saved Essex Street. Two houses blown

Apart. Pickering’s coal smoldered

As the state’s militia marched in.

“Peabody Street’s going,” someone


Shouted. John Long, who lived there, dropped

His hose and ran home, found his wife

Dazed, carried her out in his arms

Through fiery fist of door frame.


Hours later the Boston Post

Noted the Longs on the common

Content in two chairs, a table

And lamp near, with their tin bath tub.

By Dennis Daly

First published by Muddy River Review
included in Night Walking With Nathaniel, poems of Salem by Dennis Daly  (Dos Madres 2014)

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