Temporary Work Stoppage

Title

Temporary Work Stoppage

Subject

Coal Mining Exhibit

Description

Bond poem, Horrell photograph, Martell background

Creator

David Bond, Beth Martell, Doc Horrell

Source

The Light That Shatters Darkness Exhibit

Publisher

Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Contributor

Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Rights

Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Format

Text, JPG photographs

Language

English

Type

Poetry, photography

Identifier

Exhibit Window #9

Text

Temporary Work Stoppage

That’s the phrase the company kept insisting we use,
as if that euphemism would change what it was,
and for five months I crossed the picket line
past camouflaged men who called me scab,
dodging scattered jackrocks
on the road to the coal preparation plant
where I’d work each day
at the jobs they’d deserted.

Some picketed because they had to,
to get the weekly strike fund checks,
because their unioned brotherhood required it,
and mostly they were silent, almost embarrassed,
as they sat in lawnchairs
or kept inside the small sheds they’d hauled in,
positioned like instruments of siege
beside the company gates.

Others swore and spat and threatened.
Sometimes they brought wives
from whose mouths came words
you wouldn’t hear on the evening news.
Sometimes children held signs
they couldn’t read.

************

Every day it affected me a little more;
not fear, not really,
but a physical aching of the heart.

There is something you can’t articulate,
can’t place on exhibit
like the welded steel spikes
at home on my desk,
or the dozen bullet-holes
in the sheetmetal warehouse.

Something in the way they cursed,
in the eye dark with what might have been hate,
in the way the strike was only a metaphor,

in the way you knew
that shortly they’d be back,
working beside you again.

Original Format

Photographs of jackrocks and striking miners

Files

The Light That Shatters Darkness #11.jpg

Citation

David Bond, Beth Martell, Doc Horrell, “Temporary Work Stoppage,” SCRC Virtual Museum at Southern Illinois University's Morris Library, accessed August 11, 2022, https://scrcexhibits.omeka.net/items/show/56.

Comments

Social Bookmarking