Mountain Poems: 13/14
Nature, Mountain

Clean and Green with New Technologies

© Michael Comiskey

An ode to murdered mountains

Big Blackstrap Mountain stood three hundred million years,
and saw a thousand ice sheets come and go.
Its slopes held hardwoods near ninety feet high.

They stripped the trees first.
Then four hundred foot
of mountaintop
–overburden–
was blown through the air
and dumped in the hollows.
A dragline cut 29 inches
of clean coal
from the carcass.

Now a grey stump
two miles square
greets the eye.
An earth and slate dam,
with its deepening pool
of black sulfurous
coal-wash water hangs
above the valley.

In erstwhile hollows
seep orange oozy eddies
of iron pyrite–
fool’s gold.
But who is the fool?
And who has the gold?

Nothing can live
in the alkaline soil.
A Mars lander could come here
and not know the difference,
except for the Astroturf softball fields
shown on TV.
You know the ones–
they’re lighted at night.

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