Black Dust by Kurt Moore
I escaped from underneath the Earth,
Trading in black coal for the labored
Soot of newspaper ink, a cleaner trip
To the po’ man’s farm.
Yet I trod in your sodden footsteps
Two generations later, still selling
My goods to the company store.
I cannot shake off the dust your boots
Gathered in the mines, grief and status quo
You drank away with liquor like the feds
Were still biting at your daddy’s tail.
We never met, but I still wonder
If I caught your moroseness
Like it could infectiously travel
Through the soiled ground where
Your beloved spirits dragged you.
I tuck away my hand from anger,
Fearful I too have the ol’ one-two punch
Known to dry up a drinking hole’s well
Or smash a little boy’s heart.
When you let loose with the hammer,
Did it drop somehow uneven, splitting
Soul like the coal buried deep in the muck?
I will never know why you traded spirits
For soul, whether you thought it a better deal
Than, say, investment in your children.
Or if it was somehow a cave-in, sucking
You under as the tell-tale bird sung another tune.
What I do know is I’ll read the chiseled signs
My daddy hung out front, saying enter
At your own risk and fear suffocation
If your thirst puts out your own light.