Among bloggers, there’s a common, oft-bemoaned problem:  “What should I write about, I’m out of ideas?!” 

Looking through a 100-year-old children’s book today, I realized that this problem pre-dates blogging.  Even in the early 20th century, authors and editors wrung their hands when trying to wring new ideas out of thin air. 

How else to explain this poem, by editor and poet Olive Beaupre Miller?  It’s an ode to smog, for God’s sake, and the beauty therein.

As someone with two asthmatic children, I did a double-take.  The East Coast lingers under a permanent haze of smog, there’s now an epidemic of chronic respiratory disease among kids, and here was this woman, waxing freaking poetic about the plumes from smokestacks!  Unbelievable.

But in my more sympathetic moments, I’m sure she was desperate for a subject, any subject, that presented itself.  At its most benign, this is an interesting perspective on lost innocence – on how excited people were about America’s economic growth, fueled by smokestack industries.

Put your hands together and please welcome City Smoke:

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