West Virginia Born, I was.
Not by choice here in 1951
Living in a Company Town
we call hollers, no towns near.
Food is scarce, but work’s scarcer.
Not many choices left ‘cept to
work the coal mines three shifts
or could be a farmer or a bum.
Money here is Paper Scrip
and only payable to the miner
to buy and pay at Company Store.
Not much choice, no choice.
Houses were identical row houses.
Owned by Coal Mine, built cheap
in return for your slavery with
all boys, men of age to work mines.
Life was the same all around
every mine visited identical.
Every Coal Company same
No where else to go, no cars.
They had one room schools
with all grades in one room.
Most times older ones taught littles.
Spaces cramped no heat ‘cept coal.
As time went on the Mines were
more civilized and built churches,
movie theaters, playgrounds too.
But pay was low and still trapped.
West Virginia mountains beauty,
but was raped and ravaged by
thieves and risk takers of mine.
Poverty, does not reduce beauty.