Black Diamonds

Poem By Robert Charles Howard

Farmers flocked to Blossburg's mines
    willing their abandoned plows
    to perpetual dust and rain.

Burrowing into the Tioga hills,
    with Keagle picks and sledges,
    they filled their trams with rough cut coal.

Black diamonds - carved for waiting boilers
    of New England mills and trains
    and Pennsylvania's winter stoves.

Brothers, Frank and Asher swung their picks,
    in tunnels deep beneath the hills
    and brushed away the clouds of soot.

Their coughs at first seemed harmless,
    as from nagging colds or flus -
    but deepened as their lungs turned black.

Pain and choking drove them to their beds
    where no medic's art could aid them.
    Then the coroner came to seal their eyes.

A stonecutter's chisel marks their brevity
    on a marble graveyard obelisk
    that pays no homage to their sacrifice.

Comments about Black Diamonds

I like that you took on a different topic. It seems to be a topic that you are very familiar with and that may have given you personal pain for which I am sorry. Farmers across America have stopped farming because it doesn't make them a living or because something more lucrative was found under the ground. I particularly liked the way you used your words- -for example- - . A stonecutter's chisel marks their brevity. Thank you for sharing this piece
unsung heroes...we need to silently thank them every time we use energy of any sort...well conceived and executed
Great work, a lustrous poem shining with heartfelt emotions for these brave men who face so many odds
Fantastic write, I can certainly relate as my uncle Sid was a coal miner. As a child I remember when he came home witha sad face, one of his co-workers died that day while working in the mine, another day home because he lost part of his thumb, another day another death and then the big one came where several miners lost their lives. A very difficult life indeed and you paint a true picture of what the end can bring. I'll be keeping this one as one of my favourites. Melvina
We're all an uncut diamonds, depends on how you looked at it.


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