‘A Part of History’ by Phil Riley

The late Phil Riley of Lowell was an English teacher and cross-country and track coach at Stoneham High School for 22 years. His wife, Johanna C. Bohan Riley, recently spoke to me about his deep affection for Lowell and literature, particularly poetry. He passed away about a year ago. I asked her if we might publish one of his poems on this blog. Here’s his poem “A Part of History”—PM


A Part of History


Born of industry

On the mighty Merrimack,

My city stands above the power of nature

Channeling her thunderous falls;

Then for cotton,

Now for the boats guiding tourists

Through the web of canals.

Come and see her

By boat or by trolley.

Hear the music playing.

Walk down the cobblestoned streets

Where the mill girls toiled

To escape the rural life.

Now—the Spinners play ball

On our field of dreams;

And the puck glides across

The ice in the arena

Named for our Senator remembered.

Sometimes, I feel like I am part

Of history—one of the nameless

Crowd that has walked the streets

Of Lowell.


—Phil Riley (c) 1998