Dispatch From the Coal Mine

Yesterday a friend called me 

A canary in a coal mine,

A melancholy honor

An inconvenient truth. 

I don’t strive to see it –

I just say what I see 


In front of me.

Everyone has the opportunity

The same things happen in our face

But most decide to look away — toward the TV, 

Toward the feed.

It’s not a mystery — 

Looking feels like looking 

Directly at the sun

The good thing about smoke is

It provides protection

From sunlight

From breathable air

From ignorance that fire is near. 

Smoke – an alert system 

And still we decide 

To look outside and find 

This air to breathe is ‘fine.’

Decades later, if we’re still here, 

Thousands wring their hands asking “Why?” 

Bodies riddled with disease. 

Smoke inhaled outside, on this day

Nowhere in the memory.

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