Barbaric Yawp for the West Virginia Mountains
“First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain. . .”
We Americans worship mountains, the rise and fall of them,
the unruliness of them, their rushing streams, their shushing boughs,
their rippling vistas—range upon range of them
marching into the distance, forever and ever,
swathed in mist or bathed in golden sunshine,
clothed in green of spring and summer, the fire of fall.
“Forever.” “Oh, Shenandoah, how we long to see thee—”
“And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.”
“No.” The coal companies say, “No,” as they promise us “Clean Coal”
backed by investment from China, Russia, Arabia—dirty money
to buy the uber machines and mighty dynamite to clear and decimate
the mountains, as divisions of bulldozers invade each of the peaks,
plow their way down to the valleys, clearcutting forest, pushing hard-
woods into the streambeds, the dynamitards blowing up tree-stumps,
rockwalls, cliffs, to reach the coal: Clean Coal, Clean, Clean Coal!
Promises were made that the coal companies’ interests are our interests,
the Red, White, and Blue, the meaning of our nation, everything
that is true. Promises made by Clean, Clean Coal.
Promises were made that this land would be our land forever.
To protect man’s right to exult in the presence of wildness,
to experience the serenity of quiet forests
— the renewing strength of nature unimpaired.
First there was a mountain.
© Christopher T. George
Christopher T. George was born in Liverpool, England, in 1948. He emigrated to the United States in 1955, but returned home to experience the Swinging Sixties. He re-emigrated to the US in 1968 and studied poetry with Sister Maura Eichner and Elliott Coleman. Chris has been published in journals worldwide. He is a former editor of Loch Raven Review. Chris has a poetry website at http://chrisgeorge.netpublish.net/