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from o mountaineers! (1974) Editors’ Note: Published in 1974 by the Appalachian Press in Huntington, West Virginia, this 242-page book was printed in both hardback and paperback editions and illustrated with reproductions of oil paintings by Connie West. It contains an introduction by Aubrey Williams, the New Deal activist and publisher of the Southern Farmer, and reprints West’s introduction from Clods of Southern Earth (reprinted on pages 3–8 of this book). Largely a collection of West’s previously published poems, the book is divided into two parts: “Of Hurt and Anger ” and “A Time for Hope and Love.” The book also reprints blurbs by Langston Hughes, Rev. Claude Williams, and May Justus. It is dedicated to “Connie, Ann, Hedie, Mildred and Vicky, Appalachians.” Obituary for Despair After a long spell when no poems came These empty years you fogged out eyes With fall-out waste of cynical lore. In errant disheartenment Our feet have trod on somber soil, Lips half whispering The un-sung songs, still-born Of dull aches Muted by conformity’s stale aura . . . But not for long you held your sway No hand can desolate strong hearts No leash hold back their quickened urge Nor empty now these brimming ewers. The silence breaks, We sing again . . . ! 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 157 no lonesome road 158 The Kennedy Baby Conversation in a West Virginia Clinic “You heard the news about The Kennedy baby bothered by reporters?” The miner’s widow asked. “I did, and got all choked up Waiting there in a Kanawha clinic18 For Molly Brackenridge To have her full-time child. Molly from up on Jumping Branch And Hetty Hatfield from Cabin Creek Each had her child full-time and dead . . . “They say pintos and molly-grub19 Don’t set well On pregnant bowels. The baby’s feeble breath Whispered out On the third hour . . . “Too bad the Kennedy child Had to be bothered by questions.” Automated Miner An automated miner From Cabin Creek, Said automated miner From Cabin Creek Ain’t got no job That’s what I seek. Now I used to dig coal where The mine was damp. Said I used to dig coal where The mine was damp. 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 158 selected poems 159 Load sixteen tons By carbide lamp. But since automation came The times got tight. Said since automation came The times got tight. They put me on A special diet. O molly-grub and gravy on The welfare roll. Said molly-grub and gravy on The welfare roll. Can’t get no job To save my soul. Walked all the way to Charleston My feet got sore. I walked all the way to Charleston My feet got sore. And then I went To Baltimore. But twenty years a miner It’s all I know. Said twenty years a miner That’s all I know. No job, no home, No place to go . . . Confession For Carl Braden.20 I saw him walk through The prison gate And heard the iron bars clang Against his freedom. Accused, character assassinated, Condemned and forsaken By those unfit his shoes to tie, 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 159 no lonesome road 160 He went to serve time in prison, And there, but for my cowardice, Walked I . . . Walked I . . . ! Stereotypes Redneck, Cracker Goober picker Eat poke sallet Drink pot licker. Wool hat, hooger You’re my brothers All of us had Poor white mothers. Linthead, white trash Red dirt eaters Lonesome water Makes repeaters. And hillbilly, Do you think we should Class ourselves with The Peckerwood? Or “Mountain Whites,” That sound better? Then write it down In scarlet letter. We are the ones, The big folks claim, Why lynch the blacks And bring them shame. 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 160 selected poems 161 The Blessed Blessed is he that considereth the poor Blessed are the poor the hungry the meek the merciful and peacemakers the persecuted slandered and reviled . . . For they are God’s children and shall be found: on the picket line the peace walk freedom march sit-in the prisons . . . wherever the stumbling feet need the dangerous little candle lights of human dignity held aloft by humble hands . . . For These Sad Ashes News Note: In Georgia, Ku Klux Klan elements burned three houses at our farm home on...


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