A Psalm against J.D. Vance

Keegan Lester


Spill a little lighting for Ryan & Marcus, Natalie, &
my great grandfather. Spill

a little lightning for Tom & Jason & Joe & Teresa.
Graveyards round here full

of people cause there’s a thousand ways into the mine,
a thousand ways to be

killed in the mine, cause the American coal miner
can only be seen in light

when they’re dead. The only time the media has a big interest
is the day after & one day a hundred years will pass

& they wont even love nature anymore,
& they will say what we did to the natives was genocide

& they will say what we did to those cities was apartheid
& they will say what we did to Appalachia was colonialism,

we treated them as if not our people, but things
to bring ore up out of a mountain,

& one day they will use the word slave
& one day they will let Appalachian children speak for themselves

& one day they will let Appalachian children into colleges
& not ask them to denounce the place they came from

their culture, their religion, their hands,
& one day they will let Appalachian children speak

& the Appalachian children will say  you can’t lose but so much blood,
then the body

shutting down; it was cheaper to destroy a mountain
than put up a man to work underground,

my brother’s body mangled in such a way,
every bone crushed, I could not recognize him,

that’s what they gave us back
of the miners up at Upper Big Branch,

Don Blankenship’s employees, they were our friends, beneath the surface.
They were brave men at work.



Provenence: Submission.


Keegan Lester is a writer splitting time between New York City and Morgantown West Virginia.  His writing has appeared in The Boston Review, The Journal and The Academy of American Poets Poem a Day series among other places. His first book “this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was and it was all i had so i drew it” was selected by Mary Ruefle for the 2016 Slope Editions book prize.



Featured Image: By Lewis Hine (1874-1940) National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Wikimedia Commons

  • Valena Beety
    December 2, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Yes and yes again.

  • Miriam Levering
    December 5, 2017 at 5:48 am

    That is a great, great poem!

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