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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9-11 Madness

It was a gorgeous fall day
I was on a ladder fixing a chimney
I called the homeowner to ask a question
She said all the phones were down in NY City
Told me a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers
It was a horrific incident to imagine
I finished my job and headed home
I sat on the edge of my couch watching the TV
In awe of the devastation and loss of life
Smoke billowed out of the upper floors
A plane load of jet fuel created a living hell
For all who were trapped on the upper floors.
It was then the word came across the screen
A second plane was headed toward the second tower
It was suspected that it was an act of terrorism
This was utter madness to think anyone could do this
But, right in front of America’s eyes we all watched
The second plane hit the tower igniting a ball of flames
This was not a bad dream, rather madness at its worst
First responders raced to the scene and into the towers
Attempting to evacuate as many as they could
People poured down the stairwell and into the streets
Worst of all was the realization that all the people
Above the crash were trapped in this ill-fated doom
Paper was floating down like a tickertape parade
Some people panicked by the madness began jumping
Falling to their death
About this time TV reporters began noticing
That the fire and heat was going to cause the top
Of the towers to collapse… some questioning
The buildings’ stability to withstand it all
As we all watched in horror the unbelievable happened
The first tower began to implode on itself
Collapsing all the way to the ground
In a Mushroom Cloud of smoke, ash, and twisted steel
Within minutes, the second tower collapsed
People ran screaming down the streets looking for shelter
The tsunami of dust raced after them overtaking them
Covering them with a gray white ash as people ran on
High-heels were left laying in the gutter as thousands
Raced to cross the bridge and away from Manhattan
Numb adrenalin was the only feeling left to experience
Shock blanketed the nation as the death toll kept rising
With some, it was anger at the cowards who did such a thing
That created hell on earth in New York and also in DC and  Pennsylvania
The heroes were the first responders many whom gave their lives
Racing into the inferno to try to save as many as they could
It was an awful day for mankind!!
“Where were you when the world stopped turning?” (Alan Jackson)

It is interesting that Lara, at d’Verse, asked us to write about madness on the eve of 9-11. I remember that terrible day like it was yesterday! As I watched, I could not believe my eyes as Radical Muslim Terrorists hijacked airliners attempting to crash them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the White House! Three of them succeeded, but the heroic actions of the passengers caused the last plane to crash in a field in Pennsylvania, rather than the White House. It was madness at its worst! This is my account as I remember it.

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Thanks to Alan Jackson who wrote the above song to remind us of what is really important in life.



Tarpits swallow everything that steps in them

From the newcomer to the prominent and powerful

From the Pterodactyl to the T-Rex

The quicksand of tar swallows them all

Leaving them with black hearts and sticky fingers.

Just as the dinosaurs sank into extinction

‘So will our government // if all we do is:

           Promise what we know we can’t deliver

           Appeal to the emotions of a radical base

           Sell out to the special interests

           Get caught in the web of lies and deceit

           Give in to political pressure

           Lose our moral compass

And… worry more about losing power

      …Than losing themselves…

In the tarpits of political delusion


Photo: Dwight L. Roth