Icicles hang in the drop shaft, like dead man's fingers.
My rubber boots are slipping as I negotiate each rung of the iron ladder.
My fingers freeze to the rungs, making my hands useless.
Down...down...down...I go, into the pit of dampness.
I think to myself, "This winter work ain't worth it".
"I could be in the tavern".
Unemplyment compensation is looking better and better.
Maybe I can figure a way to get laid off.
I get on the frozen dinky, and lay down next to the battery box.
My rain suit freezes to the damp cold metal.
I advance to the heading where it's warm.
This is where we mine clay.
I smell 90 weight oil, bentonite and cigarette smoke.
Robin, the mining machine operator greats me with a smile.
He hands me a joint, and says, "Mornin' ya'll". "Yah ready to start mining"?
Yeah, I'm ready, as I draw in the hallucinagen which will make my morning,
and my hangover managable.
When they are full, I take the boxcars out to the shaft.
The cold fucking hooks from the crane freeze my hands.
I throw lumps of clay at the pipe-jack man.
We laugh, talk, and look at girlie magazines, until the cars come back down.
We will be seeing our busty bartendress in eight or ten hours.
We all eat on the fly, with dirty hands.
We work through lunch.
No-one wants to stay an extra half-hour in this cold, dank, misery.
I'm soaking wet and cold in my rainsuit by noon.
In tunnel life, you're freezing cold one minute, and sweating like a dog, the next.
Shoveling spoils makes you sweat.
Now, there's only two hours left.
My body aches.
I long for a shot-and-a-beer.
I want to sit in a warm, dark place with music.
I want to look at a healthy set of knockers with my half-closed eyes,
as she bends over the speed rack of bottles.
I always say I'm only going to stay an hour.
Then I stay 2 or 3, or more...and end up driving home drunk, with one eye open.
I need to focus now.
I kiss my family. They've already eaten their dinners. Mine is cold.
I microwave it. It's dried out, but it tastes good to me.
I shower the freezing cold out of my bones, and set the clock for 4 a.m.,
to work another winter's day.
This wretched life comes to own you, in the winter tunnel.