Today’s Poetry Pub prompt for the November Poem a Day Challenge is “foggy.” Since today is the 53rd Anniversary of the Farmington Mining Disaster, I chose to combine the two.
Sometimes a poem doesn’t get to where you want it, but because of the moment, you want to say something and so you do. Sometimes this is ill-advised. Other times, you feel you need to speak and trust that it will be enough.
[Note: I’ve continued to rework the piece and have updated it to the most current revision.]
This elegy is in honor of seventy-eight miners who died on this day in 1968 and their families and the community who still grieve their loss and the tragedy. You can read more about the disaster HERE. There is a longer YouTube video of an eyewitness account at the bottom of this post.
You listen to me read the poem via the player below.
There were ninety-nine miners who tried In the Consol Number 9 To earn their wage, punch the clock, Walk the slope, pick the rock, Descend into the invisible fog Released by the pile of Gog.* Ninety-nine miners who worked inside The Consol Number 9. On the 20th day of November The cold and the damp and the weather Pushed the air down To hang heavy inside The Consol Number 9. A blast shook the earth As the third shift worked Ignited the depths of the mine, Trapped seventy-eight miners, Farmington’s pride, In the Consol Number 9. Rescuers searched while their families prayed Only 21 made it alive. For a week they worked trying to find The miners who were trapped, inside Trapped inside but trapped alive,** In the Consul Number 9. Llewellyn belched a hellish smog *** It filled the valley with fog. To stop the fire, they sealed the mine With the seventy-eight miners inside The Fathers and brothers, Farmington’s pride, In the Consol Number 9. To this day, the families remember That cold 20th day of November The seventy-eight miners we worked beside, The nineteen whom we never did find, Our friends, our fathers, the brothers who died In the Consol Number 9. *A mine’s Gog Pile is the pile of rock refuse which may release hazardous methane gas. ** Though some held on to hope that more miners would be rescued, after the initials blasts, not many believed any could've survived. *** The Llewellyn is the mine shaft where the explosion exited.
You can view a personal account of the disaster.