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Contents Page: October, 2010, vol 6 no 3

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Mary Whiteside

Montcoal, WV: April, 2010

Fog eases through greening valleys. Lady slippers sway to yellow-throated warblers’ slurred harmonies. Timeless hills—squandered and defiled—collapse into crawdad creeks. Independent spirits gather in graying frame houses, humble churches. Dusty pickup trucks crawl fractured roads.

women wait
firedamp swells black shafts
Pray for our miners

Men welded to mountains and hollows. A gritty tribe scarred by darkness, cold, stifling dust. Blessed camaraderie forged through endemic fear. Lives risked day in and out for a dream. Hearts of black gold. Anything happens, I’m looking down from heaven.

worn boots, tin dinner pails
tear-sputtering candles
Easter sacrifice

Coal country’s bleak truth. Greed without conscience or constraint. Run coal, ignore citations. Run coal, stay silent. Hell, the ventilation’s bad. Ticking bombs, death pits. Earth ravaged. Lives shattered.

the lights still burn—
is murderous negligence
a cost too dear

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