Friday, December 20, 2013

Coal Act (1969)

Dawn Potter

For instance:
If a miner is suffering [e.g., Employees 1 & 4]
or suffered [e.g., Employees 2 & 3]

from a chronic dust disease of the lung
which (A),
when diagnosed by chest roentgenogram [Employee 1],

yields one or more large opacities
(greater than one centimeter in diameter)
and would be classified

in category a, b, or c
of the International Classification
of Radiographs of the Pneumoconioses

by the International Labor Organization,
(B) when diagnosed by biopsy [Employee 2]
or autopsy [Employee 3],

yields massive lesions in or on the lung,
or (C) when diagnosis is made by other means
[e.g., Employee 4 hacks up black spittle

and struggles to breathe
during hobbles to the mailbox],
would be a condition

which could reasonably be expected
to yield results described
in clause (A) or (B)

if diagnosis had been made
in the manner prescribed
in clause (A) or (B)

[though Employee 4 should have got off his ass
and fetched up a doctor’s certificate],
then there shall be an irrebuttable presumption

that he [Employee 1] is totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis
or that his death was due to pneumoconiosis [Employee 3]
or that at the time of his death

he was totally disabled by pneumoconiosis [Employee 2,
but Employee 4 says, “I ain’t going up to Pittsburgh
just to spit and get talked at, if they want me

they can take me out a here on a plank,
I know a thing or two about bosses
and their goddamn lawyer talk,

ain’t nobody can pull wool over my eyes,
I’ve heard, up to Pittsburgh, soon’s you walk in,
a nurse sticks a needle in your arm,

then two three days later
you get sent home in a coffin, God’s truth
them doctors is only in it for the money,

I ain’t going nowheres near ’em,
I’m a stay right here
and listen to that Puerto Rican kid

hammer the ball out of the park,
he’s the only kind of Pittsburgh I care for”],
as the case may be.

[first published in the Bellevue Literary Review (fall 2013)]


Maureen said...

I read this several times in my BLR copy, Dawn. I think it's terrific.

Ruth said...

It captures the feelings of so many for that time period too. Doctors and hospitals automatically meant your were dying.

Dawn Potter said...

Thanks so much, Maureen and Ruth. Yes, I remember as a small child hearing older relatives talk about hospitals as if they equaled death. They would do anything to stay away.

Ang said...

Hospitals are still pretty a life and death toss up. I so appreciate your work on W. Pa. and the coal mining culture.