Coal Dust

I am the son of the son of a coal miner
My father having escaped
the steaming bowels of West Virginia
Long before I came into this world
His father traded a lung full of coal dust
For a handful a black smeared dollar bills
So the family could buy potatoes and stay alive

Not much of a life expectancy for pet canaries
in that mining camp
Simmering slag piles offered grimy solace for the young boys
Their minds filled with thoughts of a far away war
Now the ones who made it back home are left with
Just some memories of the black stained hands
And the coal dust on the wind discoloring the laundry on the line
Just some memories of the ancient grocer in her musty shop
And the shelves stocked with sacks of flour
and sugar and jars of shiny red candy

Hollywood finally came slicing through the Blue Ridge Mountains
Nesting there to pick at the remains of the carcass
Left by box-guitar playing hobos and folk music sycophants
They strum and wail of the richness of West Virginia and its people
Unaware that the mysteries within are equally lost on them

The son of a coal minor is often touched by the effort
When he gets lost in the panoramic vista of the sweeping verses
It is almost easy to forget the miners’ life
It is almost easy to forget the slag piles
It is almost easy to forget the coal dust

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