Thursday, March 24, 2011


They'd shoot rock on the last hour of day shift, and turn off the ventilation fans before they slammed the doors on the man cage at night. And the crane "high-balled" the hard-hatted, hard-headed men topside...and the miners laughed as they saw the last of daylight...and they either went home to nagging wives and crying babies...or to dank smoky bars whose atmospheres were'nt much better than the rock tunnels from which they emerged.

And we started swing shift to dead air in a "dog leg" filled with dynamite powder and stale air which gave us headaches, and constricted our lungs...and we sweat as we mined rock...and the rock dust stuck to our skins and got into our eyes and lungs...and we toiled for nine hours in this fashion until we emerged at midnight.

And our families were asleep, so we trudged like zombies to cold showers in filthy "hog houses", and got into our beat up pick-up trucks...onward to deserted taverns with bar girls who had shiners, 'cause their boyfriends or husbands were'nt worth a shit.

And all was good in the quiet of these alcoholic tombs...because we drank to forget...and Ronnie Milsap sounded so sweet, singing his sad country songs about lost love...and I went to bed around four a.m., so my wife and baby daughter wouldn't have to see me drunk.

And I didn't see hide nor hair of them, 'til the weekend...and they sensed my quiet desperation...'cause even though I was there, I really wasn't.

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