The bones cast in the field like seed corn grow nothing,
grow briars in the boarded gas stations
brown stalks ready for the fire.
You do not hear our song,
earth thick in our throats, benzene, chromium
cadmium and arsenic
hosts of dead in cold-mill towns
the day that does not come though prayed for.
The trains of coal and corpses, the price of power
though wires are stretched like a mandolin on our backs
though the saints bob above us like car-lot balloons
You do not hear our singing.
In electric light the bubble gum machine is full of teeth
the babies' bottles with a slow sweet poison
the air thick with cancer, the rain with
teeth, without flowers, without cease.
This dream of sleep, in hunter's orange
over oil-black in cups, in the hollows under eyes.
The unborn sun in the darkest river, the hollow hills
unsong of un-place, Bloody Harlan, Centralia
the blessed fly over in air conditioned comfort.
Let the bone-fire of your city burn 'till your shadow stains.....the bricks
Let the dark come spilling from the mine thick as molasses
Let the end come if it is coming,
Let the rich hang from their ankles,
a washtub full of black blood.
You do not hear.
Let the hills and stones fall on us and cover us
Let those curse us who curse the day, who are skillful
the smelters of iron, and armaments, the hilltop removers.
Though we are dying, though we breath black dust
and blue powder, spit liquor and blood
the black drink, the earth's secret breath.
Though we are toothless, though we are blind
we hear this:
Steady trundle of the train under storm clouds
loaded down with malediction,
the radio tower's Babel-bleat to heaven
with the black stone, with the dead for burning
song of electric light, and sleeplessness.
Weariest river at the end of all things
We follow you into the earth.
Used by permission.
Jacob Rakovan is an Appalachian writer in diaspora. He is a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and recipient of a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His work has appeared in numerous journals including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The James Dickey Review, Anon, Thrush and Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism as well as anthologies by Salmon Poetry Press, MTV Books and The Arsenic Lobster. His manuscript The Devil's Radio was a finalist for the 2012 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature and the Gell poetry prize and is forthcoming on Small Doggies Press. He is co-curator of the Poetry & Pie Night reading series in Rochester, New York.
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