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Clean Coal Burn belongs in the tradition of James Wright, whose poems of coal mines and slag heaps nevertheless reveal love of a scarred but resilient land. In these poems beauty is found in unlikely places such as the haze over a corn field or the words of a man whose throat has been destroyed by black lung disease but who writes that there is beauty in the afterbirth of a sheep which steams in the spring snow “as if the land were alive.” While there is death—of miners or parents—there is also resurrection—in the new growth and new generations.

                         Deborah Fleming

Distress Signals

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After Another School Shooting


I find a puddle of clouds on the sidewalk

and bow down to get a closer look.

A jet's contrail slices across the puddle

as if incising it for dissection.

Ants along the edge dip their pincers

in, microscopic ripples radiating

from all sides before colliding in the middle.

The sun appears from beneath a cloud just in time

to be snuffed out by the boot of a pedestrian

who couldn't care less whether

the world is right-side up or upside down.


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