Two Poems

Lobotomized Mountains

Aldo Leopold said we should be
“Thinking Like a Mountain”:
should think outside the box
of our tiny human brainbox
to encompass the mind of the land. 
Land mind, not land mine!

In West Virginia and even in Kentucky,
the state where Wendell Berry lives,
whole mountaintops have been decapitated. 
Bush should be impeached for treason to
America the Beautiful’s purple mountain majesties
60 years after Aldo wrote “Thinking Like a Mountain”
and explained the need for a land ethics. 

And why are they decapitating mountains? 
To get a few tons of coal per mountaintop
to further pollute the air and hasten Global Warming. 
And decapitating those mountains causes erosion
that taints the water with arsenic for those downhill to drink. 

470 Appalachian mountaintops were decapitated
while Bush was in office. Those mountains
got no more mercy from Bush than those
decapitated captives got from Al Qaeda. 
      Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland!
      Not Appalachian Silent Spring by George W. Bush!
Eco-blind Bush would stripmine the mountain where
Moses met the Burning Bush to fuel the forges of Mordor. 
How can we think like a mountain when mountains
are being lobotomized along with our own mountain mind? 


Coalmines Are Mine Disasters Even If They Don’t Cave In

How many coalminers toiled
near the dwindling Sherwood Forest
to feed the furnaces of Industrial Revolution’s juggernaut? 
How could 12th century Robin Hood have foreseen
the coalmines of late 19th century Nottingham,
where D.H. Lawrence’s coalminer father came home
from work poignant as Blake’s sooty chimneysweeps? 
Miners as tragic as those child labor minors.
And all those generations of coalminers
dying of “black lung” or dying in cave-ins! 
Coalminers who should have been
soul miners mining their souls,
mind miners mining their minds,
for treasures more precious
than coal turned under eons of pressure into diamonds. 
And diamond miners no less poignant picking diamonds
instead of cotton in the subterranean slavery of apartheid. 

—Jeff Poniewaz, Milwaukee, WI