HomeFocus On ‘Progress’, a poem by Lisa J. Parker

‘Progress’, a poem by Lisa J. Parker

…on the human effects of coal mining and other resource extraction industries:


In a ton of black gold
boring through the fatness of the Blue Ridge
on the Clinchfield freight lines,
three generations are trapped.
The first generation talks in
short bursts of emphysemic speech,
trying to stand straight,
coughing quietly while
the second generation
glorifies the first,
pretends insomnia when the spastic sleep wheezing comes,
pretends not to see
the third generation
following him,
trying to smell puffs of pine and mountain laurel
through coal clots,
seeing black-filled handkerchiefs as
proof of manhood.
But a widow,
a childless mother,
sits on a crooked porch and
In piles of dust and ungrateful steam,
three generations cough mutely in
the face of Industrial Progress.


© 1993 Lisa J. Parker
(Originally published in ECHOES Magazine*, July/August 1995)

This Gone Place, an excellent collection of Lisa’s work,  is available from Motes Books and commercial booksellers.

*Echoes published several of Lisa’s poems, including Nine, Windows, Memorial Day 1993, and Progress.


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