Word Warriors

By Bob Henry Baber

When the mountains are leveled from east Kentucky to the Virginias,
And they will be – just as surely as the sun will rise to shame grey Unceasing carnage-
When the sweet old ladies of Sylvestor
Are blown away by coal dust;
And the next “impossible” sludge spill has spoiled thousands of miles of water,
Flooded hundreds upon hundreds of homes, and likely killed people

Unrest assured
The gigantic toxic permanent markers,
Man’s cursed indelible graffiti on the landscape-
Will be so noted
In indelible ink-
Tiny word monuments
Scrawled on recycled paper
Garnered in chapbooks
Etched in time
And tucked into corners of consciousness

From which they will never be dislodged.
We too will leave our mark – not of profit, but of pride,
Of the fight, well-fought.

Like so many others
Our pleas are falling on ears
Made deaf by machines and money,
But our protests, too,
Will stand the test of truth
And ill compare to the struggles
Of hundreds of other indigenous justice movements around the world,
Weakened people who stood strong
Against the cold metal blade of destruction masked as progress;

They will be the testament of resistance
That future generations of coalfield refugees
And people who love mountain ranges everywhere
Will hold deep in their psyches
And pass along to the children of their children.

That is why we must continue to keenly speak-
Despite the bleak outcome
Already foreseen-

So that our progeny will hear and know
We poured our bloody poems
On barren ground

Lived and died trying