(Dedicated to the United Mine Workers Union)

I was changing horses
in the middle of the stream
when a current of coalmining ghosts
pulled me into a dream.

For days and weeks
and seconds and hours
of being in their souls,
I was gently laid
before a golden throne.
From the throne
rose a cast-iron robot
in a suit of pinstrip minerbones.

On his left finger there were diamonds
and on his right thumb
was a fingernail gold.
I’m sorry but I can’t explain more
because suddenly the monster spoke
and I was frozen from his breath,
it was so meanly harsh, cruel, cold.

As I was thawing out next to my dead horse
the whisperings, anger, fear and pain
of 10 thousand petrified miners
was the heat that saved my life.
And this time I heard a voice and listened,
because this voice spoke
through the mouth of a 123-year-old
dead coalminer’s wife.

Her rough and workworn hands
said everything need be said.
She covered me with 2 worn quilts
built a fire and returned to her husband
who was 123 years, half petrified, dead.