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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Poetry show: Battle at Blair Mountain

Enlighten Radio Presents:


The Poetry Show Podcast

Broadcast LIVE Wednesday, 7 AM Eastern, June 14, 2023

Hosts: Janet Harrison, John Case

Themes: The Battle of Blair Mountain, and We All Gotta Eat


The Poems: 

Battle at Blair Mountain by Hilda Downer


A harsh truth in childhood:
who has the most money
to have the most soldiers

Those plastic green men are formidable,
deadpan faces staring in panic
at not being able to move a finger,
feet captured in puddles of fear.
Redundant postures march awkward
up a steep bank the way
an old commercial showed a truck
could power straight up a mountainside
by tilting the picture so hemlocks,
almost horizontal, speared the sky.

The bomber squad over Blair Mountain
endorsed the same green configuration
of ground troops scaling rock and ridge –
1921: the United States at civil war
with the Appalachian people.
Though one bomb did not explode,
the big guns of poverty and displacement
continue the genocide today
with each subtraction
of another coal-seamed mountain range,
adding up to more fire power
than “Little Boy”
on Hiroshima.

Still emulating gunfire,
little boys are gathered for sleep,
hard soldiers in a pile
like pieces that do not fit what is broken –
alert to ambush bare feet.
Only a few remain on the battlefield,
the solar warmth they hold
quickly draining.
Never having been alive
does not stop their grim stare
into the shotgun barrel of the full moon.


We All Gotta Eat by  Justice Ameer


even ants go to war.
been thinking about it all summer, what it means…
i mean how human. or maybe how ant.
maybe nature begets violence because we all gotta eat.

yo i was on trains all weekend.
and lord, got sick on an empty stomach.
acid tides creeping up my throat.
but no, i didn’t eat the train food.

on the hill, in the college,
we poured gallons of slop into buckets for the pigs' feast.
gross chunks, all fresh waste, an unholy stew…
and so much of it.

they’re looking at the port again.
Southside stays loud saying they don’t want it.
but y’know, folks can’t hear colored voices and well...
garbage needs a place to go.

every member of my family has mentioned my belly to me this year.
as if she doesn’t wake up with me every morning.
as if i don’t gaze at her lovingly in the mirror.
as if i should worry if she looks full...

call me callow, i just don’t think something living should go hungry…
not when we’ve made so much to eat,
with armageddon’s gas stove,
on a table we’ve slaughtered the world to build.


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