Judy Bonds Appalachian Gandhi


she came from coal black deep underground
dark bituminous coal coal her essence who she
was coal decades centuries of family genes dna

dark black soft high sulfur bituminous coal running
black deep river in her veins blood heart soul aunt
daughter granddaughter mother sister spouses of brave

miners year after dangerous monotonous uncompromising
year went dutifully without complaint deep into mother
earth’s womb risking always their lives endlessly relentlessly

tirelessly working long lethal hours extracting life sustaining
coal to earn an honest meager living breathing eating coal
dust getting home barely safe one more thankful night

blackening black covered in grime breathed drenched seeped
soaked deep into lungs skin every atom cell molecule pore
only whites of eyes deep sunken eyes buried eyes barely

nakedly showing on hollow ever rapidly hollowing faces gaunt
ghostly coal permeating everything under fingernails buried deep
in ever increasingly black emphysemic lungs despite danger threats

bring on the threats bring them on she looked JUDY BONDS
Appalachian Gandhi she looked them smack dead center straight
deep in the eyes never blinking fearless spirit woman

standing her ground ground of her people when you’re right
there’s no backin no steppin down only fearlessly standin yer ground
she came from appalachia west virginia backwoods mountain mama

hard shuffle coal miner’s daughter woman holler home only home
she’d ever known strong courageous knew where she came from proud
no puttin up with makeshift shifty lyin pitiful puny words pretense falsehoods

explanations west virginia hillbilly by damn proud to be when you mess
with tried true through and through real deep blood pure hillbillies there’s no
steppin down no chicken shit backslidin only fearless eyeball to eyeball

truthtellin no need for shame only onward upward to where diamonds be made
to where stars burn bright in deepest night high up on the appalachian hillbilly
home mountains indigenous appalachian hillbilly dedicated determined proud

unwavering refusing to ever bow down when you’re right by damn there’s nothin
to lose no matter the odds you’ll win when you’re right you have to no way you’ll
ever lose even if they whoever they be the liars greedy powermongers whoever

they be if you’re by damn right even if they kill ya and kill ya they might if you’re
right by damn you’re forever eternally right you have to win never abandon
mountaintops Appalachia my our home sweet home generations centuries millenia

beautiful fierce gentle ancient old younger than old mountaintops oh sweet friends
mountaintops now removed sliced exploded broken wide open naked exposing
coal filled entrails guts hangin out waitin for cheap easy coal owner predator bastards

thieves rapists pillagers murderers greed powermongers reckless careless corporate
government companies darkhearted evil bandits sinister government paper pushers
bought off cheap turn their heads sign permits for 30 pieces of silver sell their souls

not JUDY BONDS  Appalachian Gandhi fearless powerful little woman stands strong
stands tall not quite five feet but she’s taller than them all she stares them stares death
in the face eyeball to eyeball death threats spit on every form of intimidation but

JUDY BONDS  Appalachian Gandhi is always undeterred strong will grows stronger
more determined resists all resentment deathly threats none turn her away she never
steps down brave defiant frontline warrior woman fighter Mother Jones reincarnated

she refuses to bow down to be turned away from whatever filth they attempt to
lay sludge dirty polluted mountain debris filled creeks toxic chemicals dead floating
fish frogs sick children people all ages dying cancers unheard of unknown debilitating

killing diseases growing rampant topless mountains ruination coal sludge down down
mountainsides mowing down houses schools filling blocking stopping streams

people families generations ancient histories communities dying murdered gone

not forgotten but now unseen but one powerful little woman JUDY BONDS
Appalachian Gandhi modern Mother Jones JUDY BONDS  JUDY BONDS  fierce gentle
JUDY BONDS  stands tall taller refusing to bow down to ruthless coal company owners

willing to sacrifice her life and she did but her sacrifice her life now neighbors
families friends stepping up not turning back anymore heeding JUDY BONDS  call now
she calls from the grave

JUDY BONDS  JUDY BONDS  never once turned away she had to lead to show
the way

now the people her people will not be denied will not bow down will not turn away
they’re all becoming truthtellers
JUDY BONDS  inspired them when you’re right no one can defeat you even if
when you die you win and JUDY BONDS  died but she won Appalachian Gandhi

JUDY BONDS  she won nothin else matters when you’re fearless when you’re right
stand tall gainst ruthless goliath might when you die they lose you win JUDY BONDS
Appalachian Gandhi
fearless little woman relentless tall she stood frontlines led the way stood long as she
could she died

JUDY BONDS  died but they lost in her death yes JUDY BONDS  Appalachian Gandhi
led the cause showed the way when you’re right you dare stand alone or not you stand
straight stand tall and she stood that little woman JUDY BONDS
stood tall they couldn’t back her down

cause when you’re right you’re gonna win warrior woman JUDY BONDS  walked her
trail of tears
you won dear sweet woman JUDY BONDS  thank you you won you showed us the
way no matter what anyone says JUDY BONDS
won yes let’s go tell it on the mountain every mountain

round the world on every once pristine majestic holy sacred God’s gifts mountains
now abused mistreated ravaged raped wounded hurt destroyed tops removed killed

murdered sail on
JUDY BONDS  your job done now eternity bound your mission here on earth done
you won

your sacred message forever intact safe beloved blessed JUDY BONDS  Appalachian
Gandhi hillbilly warrior woman JUDY BONDS  gave her all her fire heart soul life she

taught us how to stand tall so now we sing farewell and thank you sweet woman

thank you for giving all we thank you JUDY BONDS  with all our hearts we sing thank
you sing your praises your song thank you

JUDY BONDS  Appalachian Gandhi we thank you God bless you
sail on sail on sail on JUDY BONDS  thank you farewell you’ll always be remembered
sail on

Nancy Bruner Wilson worked for the American Red Cross in Vietnam, for New York City in the South Bronx and for the Kentucky Department of Social Services. Since she began writing five years ago to fulfill a lifelong desire, her poems have been published in the United States and abroad.

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