Blue Collar Broadcast

American Poets
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Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon

Tapping My Own Phone

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Ron Whitehead | Companion CD | Marathon Tour

Sound files:
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miner.ram (1 MEG, Quicktime format)

Illustration by Sean Mount
The Coal Miner

There was a man in the land of Coal, whose name was Lucien Wallace; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil. There were born to him one son and one daughter. He had an old black car and a gray and white second-hand mobile home. He was a coal miner. He was a coal miner who lived a few miles out of Beaver Dam, out on highway 69, on the road to Rochester. He lived close to his coal mine, Ken underground #1.

The coal miner was lean, gaunt, hollow-eyed, like he was hungry, maybe starving, like he was haunted every second of every day, of every night of his life by the thought that his mine might collapse or explode, collapse or explode with him deep, deep in the mine, deep in the mine eating lunch, or diggin, or throwing lumps of coal at rats. He was haunted by death. He was haunted by life. He was dark, a darkling great man. The pores of his skin were filled with coal dust so that even after his sho wer when he came off shift, even after scrubbing and scrubbing, the dust lay deep in his pores, deep in his lungs. His eyes always watered; he could never get all the dust out of them. But for all the darkness there is life for in his watery turquoise eyes there runs a river, a deep blue-green river filled with a golden compassion, compassion for his children, for his wife, for his mother, for life. His mother is the Bootlegger. His children, his daughter Edwina and his son Carroll, have been with him from the start. Carroll stands facing his father. When Lucien rocks forward Carroll pops a wet washcloth in his face. When Lucien rocks back Edwina yells 'wake up daddy' in his ear.

The coal mines pay little, pay better than most in this coal barren wilderness, but they pay little, not enough for anything other than food, utilities, an old black car, and a gray and white second-hand mobile home that the wind shakes and whistles through.

The coal miner has taken one of his two weeks annual paid vacation to try and win some money so he can take his family on the vacation he has always promised but has never been able to afford. If he can win, hell even come in second place, he will take them, on the second week of his vacation, to the Gulf of Mexico, to Panama City.

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