West By God Virginia

A poem by Berea College student Britney Napier on the Buffalo Mining Creek Disaster.

7:57 AM
The mountains are still asleep
The dense fog dissipates into the low-lying valleys
After the delicate dew had been ignited
By the waking West Virginian Sun
Hush now,
you’ll wake the baby

7:58 AM
Jesus told Noah to build the Ark on the
Driest of days
But spoke not a word
To the backwaters preacher

7:59 AM
Disregard them living downstream
Don’t need no permit for Disaster
Concrete promises

8:00 AM
Can’t make it
To higher ground
Swept under sludge
That we have created
A twenty foot wave made of
The byproduct of generations


“A bridge collapses.
An airplane crashes.
A coal mine explodes
And dams fail.
And people die.”
Spat Governor Ad Hoc
In his Official Report

132 million gallons unleashed
118 lives lost
4,000 people left homeless

An act of God, Governor said
God’s grace don’t reach the valley
That’s why we call it
West by God Virginia

Think of all them youngins
Had their little lungs not been filled
Mud and soot
And had their brittle bones been left uncrushed
By the aluminum casing of their homes

To miss out on
Watching their daddy’s
break their backs in the mines
While being nickeled and dimed

To be diagnosed with cancer
Cause they got genetic pools like
Slurry ponds

And the only remorse to be found
From Buffalo Creek Mining
And the Pittston Company
Was the fact they killed off
The next batch of workers

To learn more about the Buffalo Mining Creek disaster visit our memorial display at the Appalachian Center and if you feel so inclined sign your name to honor and remember the lives that were lost during this tragic event.