I first stepped in the mines in 1954.
Black coal was easier than what I did in the war.
My father and his father walked the same tunnel.
It was my time to travel
these tunnels made us honest men,
no fear of collapse because we did not know when.
The mines brought many people to our little village,
bringing families and leaving a trail of garbage.
Sometimes, there are too many folks here and every boomtown,
making roots that do not grow into trees in any town.
They cannot replace the families that have been here over generations,
we can remember all of our traditions.
In 1973, the bottom fell out,
the only voices from the mines were frightened shouts,
walls fell in trapping all but five,
My friends and family did not all come out alive.
Our lives changed after that,
some of us too old to try on new hats.
After the notoriety from the carnage of the fallen walls,
people left our village, leaving bare halls,
I just sat on my front porch with my own thoughts,
watching the town do nothing but rot.
Memories being held in a torn flag,
Once new buildings started to sag.
People did drive each day on through,
on to the new big thing that the spirit of luck flew,
saw a lot of new businesses come and go,
empty pockets are all they had to show.
Our streets had less of children’s laughter,
more of them leaving to find something better.
Historians came through to look the mines over,
they wanted to restore them and bring back our lover,
build them into a place to visit and learn,
our town of yesteryear on the walls of every turn.
It started when it was decided to pave our road,
hoping the memories of neglect would erode.
I never got to see what did happen next,
all I know– the power of the people was flexed,
Bringing in people all over again,
to look at where it all began.
Streets lined with a new crowd,
elders were so proud.
Unfortunately, I was not there for the ceremony,
with my past in the mine, I was looking to be a celebrity,
but my body did not want to hang on,
the will was there but the parts were all but done.
Years of walking the underground mile,
and now doing it again with my black cough smile.
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