Red Moon Rising

Coke Ovens on the Mononghela (2)

     Tears flowed like a downpour on a hot summer day. All around, Jennifer could see the wives of the miners in Swift Creek Mine. Earlier that morning, an explosion trapped eight men in the far end of the shaft. Three of Jennifer’s friends were among the women anxiously awaiting their fate.

     The siren on top of the tipple sent shrill chills through the little coal patch. At times like this, the whole neighborhood rushed to the mine for word of who the trapped miners might be. Those whose husbands were safe, stayed to give comfort and support.

A red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills of the Monongahela. Jennifer could only wonder when it would be her time to weep; having a husband and son who worked there.

     Everyone went silent… as the men were carried out… one by one!

Painting of Coke Ovens and Mine: Dwight L. Roth

Prosery today at d’Verse: Lillian gave us the challenge to write a flash fiction of exactly 144 words that includes a given line from Carl Sandburg’s poem, Jazzy Fantasia . The line I included was A red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills…  This story comes from memories of my childhood in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Many lives were lost in the coal mining industry that supported our steel mills in Pittsburgh at the time.

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As I looked out my window this evening, I saw my day lilies were aglow with light from the setting sun.  Their shape reminded me of the shower of sparks that emanates from the fireworks when they explode in the sky.

Early Fireworks show

Spectacular 4th display

Mid-summer night’s dream


Happy Fourth of July

Photo: Dwight L. Roth



If someone could slice through the layers of your life

I wonder what they’d find

Foundations layers of love and affection

Or layers of anger hate poverty and want


Sedimentary layers of good things that happened

Layers that can be shaped and formed into objects of beauty

Metamorphic layers born of  life’s heat and pressure

Leaving marbled layers of the past forever  fused on its face

Diamonds and gems over time become cherished beauty

Polished on many facets by love and care that came after

Igneous layers of fuming emotion exploding out of control

Seething from deep within expelled by injustices done

Revealing the hard times that shape and mold

Cooling slowly forming geodes of hidden crystals

Yes the layers in our soul are just like those in the rocks

Formed over millions of years of molding and change

Layers giving us character and value as we age


Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Coal Miner’s Fate


Coal mining is a deadly occupation. Many men have died in the mines while digging coal out of the ground. Explosions of deadly methane gas have occurred many times over the years. When I was very young our coal mining community lost over thirty men to an explosion in the Robina Mine  in Green County, Pennsylvania.  It was a sad day for all of us. Yet men still go down into the mine shafts every day bringing out the coal. The painting was done by a coal miner who rose through the ranks to become head of the Mine Workers Union. He was a poet and a painter. Check out his work at the end of this poem.

Coal Miner’s Fate

Digging in the dark dusty earth

Coming home every day

Covered in black dust head to toe

Only to turn around and do it all again


Spending a lifetime digging in the earth

Only to spend an eternity there as well

Lost forever in the dust and methane

That explosion sealed his fate

Never again to be found


Dust to dust and ashes to ashes

But, then again we all knew

It was just a matter of time

Tomorrow we’ll do it all over again


Is the money worth the pain?


Painting by John Minnich “Jock” Wilson  aka. The Coal Miners Poet

Check out his Facebook Page and poetry….