Saturday, December 22, 2007

coal veins of jock yablonski

are still moving up the ohio
six heaping barges pushed upstream
maybe mined near bellaire ohio
making their way to the cheswick power station
on the allegheny

it was one of those sticky hot august days
in ‘69
as jock mounted a makeshift stage
in the middle of a beat-up football field
in bellaire
to speak to a couple hundred miners
and their families
about the most radical of all notions
in these parts
union democracy

the sweat poured down his face
across a hoarse open throat
and slumping tie
and every once in a while
a pointing finger came at us
making sure we heard the cry
of the thousands who came
and died before us

gk repeated it like a mantra
that this was only the beginning
the miners were just awakening
from the long terror of the thugs
and that jock
was the catalyst messenger
the brother from the early dark cio 30s
when solidarity wasn’t just a word
or a whisper
but a way of life

the union election was stolen
jock & his family were murdered new year’s eve in ‘69
a few thugs went to prison
miners for democracy wept
& carried on

after years
of continuous mining machines
mountain-top removal
black lung tens of thousands
a coal miners’ diaspora
spreading broken bodies
like polluted chewed-up forests & streams
climate havoc
foreign oil wars

lives and dies in the veins
of jock yablonski

--- e b bortz

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