John McCullagh July 2, 2007
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Wide-mouthed shovels,

Digging, scraping,

At the unyielding coal

Muscles knotted

Under sweat-wet shirts

Capped and kerchiefed,

Knee-tied trousers

Shod boots, slipping, gripping,

Shifting bodies, bent to the task

Filling the half-ton steel bucket

Lift and load,

Lift and load

Lift and load

Shrunken red-eyed, dust-streaked faces

The hacking spit of black phlegm

Nodding quietly,

Proud as the level lowers

Taking them deeper within the hold

Swirling speck-filled clouds, lining lungs

And always the lowering bucket

Lunar-locked, driving the pace.

 

Dead men digging.

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