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An Ode to Coal by Lee Allred

by Jonathon | 2.19.13


Black seams skitter
Through mantled rock,
Crisscrossing mountains.
Encrusted veins of blackened heart
Hide within its poisoning death
Until exhumed by grave diggers,
Faces black with toil-worn greed.
Black smoke bellows
In high desert air,
Seeding clouds.
Sooted walls of blackened lung
Hide within its poisoning death
Until exhaled by grave fillers,
Faces white with aged fate.
Infant heart struggles
Within plastic tent
As bellowed tubes and gauges pump
And beat louder than Death’s blackened wing.
Piston-power cremation-called
Hides within its poisoning death
Until excised by wondrous grave emptiers,
Faces pink with reborn life.

Lee Allred lives alone in a small gray house on headlands overlooking the windswept Oregon Coast. Lee has lived and travelled extensively across the globe. He is a professional fiction writer and much of his published work incorporates poetry—lines from the classics and lines from his own.

Photo by Jack Corn, 1974, via Wikimedia Commons: “First shift of miners at the Virginia Pocahontas Coal Company Mine #4 near Richlands, Virginia, leaving the elevator.”

3 Responses to An Ode to Coal by Lee Allred

  1. Th.


    Every two or three months I swing by WIZ and catch up and this trip has been particularly rewarding. Nice job, Lee.

  2. Jonathon

    It’s nice work, Lee: imagist and political, but reservedly so. Like journalism is supposed to be. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patricia

    An interesting poem to read. In a way, it reminds me of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in how it gives us a whirlwind tour of our involvement in a web of interrelationships.

    That makes you the guide ghost, Lee.

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