Coal Dusters Chapter XLVII – Lillian Goes to Church

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters

Chapter XLVII

Lillian Goes to Church 

Lillian stood on the front walk of the the McFadden’s home. The O’Dowell’s had come over to New Waterford for the night on Saturday so they could attend the special service at Mount Carmel. The strike was nearing its fifth week with no sign of ending. The Monseigneur had called for a special service on Sunday to bring the Word of God to the parishioners of the area. Her uncle was one of the priest asked to speak to the men.

Clara had insisted on her and Lillian spending the night so they wouldn’t be rushed in the morning to get across the bay to New Waterer in time for the service. She plucked a stray thread off of her dark coat. She was pleased at the opportunity to wear some of her Boston clothes. Even more pleased to have her lace gloves to cover her hands. Her eyes kept going down to her pumps. How dainty her feet looked in the dark blue shoes. Probably two years out of style by now, she thought, but still looking better than anything she had seen anyone wearing here.

“Ah Lillian, there you are.” Clara came out of the house followed by the McFadden’s and their two daughters. “You are looking quite well turned out today.”

“Thank You Clara. I haven’t gotten much opportunity to dress my best.”

They walked the few blocks to the church.

As she with Clara, Lillian noticed a large number men in uniform along the street. They were smoking and laughing. Some appeared to have been drinking.

“Who are they going to protect.” Mr. McFadden said. “The choir?”

The extra militia had been brought in to New Waterford at the demand of the coal company. The management had pressured the local police to beef up security around the mines after many of the company stores had been ransacked. It was as if they had been hoping the miners would take that more militant action after the ambush hadn’t succeeded. Any action so the company could escalate things in their own way.

Lillian and Clara passed through the main part of of the town. Off to one side street were more men on horseback. There was also some artillery on a wheeled cart. Colonel Strickland stood there with his hands behind his back watching the men inspect the artillery. 

“What do they expect the miner’s to do?” Lillian asked Clara.

“They are sure there are agitators working to undermine the company’s influence.”

“Agitators?”

“Men whose only intent to disrupt lawful business under the guise of making things better for the workers. Communists.” Clara waved to her brother. “Steven, any word from BritCanada Coal?”

He crossed the street to join them. “Good morning.” He kissed his sister on the cheek and shook Lillian’s hand. They had decided to keep their engagement a secret for the time being. The assembly is in full agreement with Wolvin’s statement that the men can end all this simply by returning to work. They are willing to open the mines so the men can start earning their keep. As general manager he has no ability to negotiate. He’s only a messenger but the men feel he’s the one keeping the company from giving in.”

“Their keep!” Mr. McFadden said. “They were being paid barely enough to keep house and family together under the old contract and now they have to settle for less?”

“Mr. McFadden, in order for the company to remain competitive in the market they have to have the coal for less, that means paying the men less. The alternative is to close down more of the mines. Is that what you think the miners want?”

“You know as well as I do that the miners want an end to this starvation. BritCanada Coal is letting the miners’ children pay the price of their profits.”

“BritCanada Coal can’t be held accountable for the ….” Steven glanced apologetically to Lillian and the other ladies, “… the propagation habits of the miners. If you can’t afford children don’t bring more into the world.”

“Steven!” Clara snapped. “What a thing to say!”

They were at the church steps. In the foyer the Monseigneur was greeting parishioners as they arrived. Father Patrick was at his side. She hadn’t seen him since he had ‘cast her forth into the wilderness’ as it was reported to her by Aileen. She didn’t offer her hand to him but merely nodded as his glance went quickly to Mrs. McFadden beside her. 

Seeing him again made her bruises throb. She had kept Clara from seeing how severe they actually were. She had made Dr. Drummond swear not to mention the severity of them to anyone. The few long hot soaking baths which she had over the past week had eased the pain considerably. Aileen had insisted she try a poultice of comfrey and mustard which reduced the swelling and discolouration.

She followed Clara to the pew they were to use for the service. On the way she was stopped by Hanna Seldon.

“Miss Lillian, it’s good to see you looking well.”

“You too Hanna. How’s the baby.”

“Poorly miss. He has that flu so many of the children have had the past few months. Least we have been able feed him to keep his strength up. The doctor says there’s a good chance he’ll pull through.”

Lillian shook her head in dismay. As the strike progressed and food became scarce many families had less and less to eat. Gardens had helped stave of some of the hunger but many of the children were weak from lack of proper nutrition. This weakness made them more vulnerable to colds and recently a flu. There were funerals daily.

“I wish there was more I could do.” Lillian said.

“Knowing your prayers are with us is more than enough. At least we have a roof over our heads. There’s now many that doesn’t. When they closed the Lingan mine those families were forced out of the company houses. No mine no home. Where is a person to go?”

“There’ll be help I’m sure.” Lillian kissed Hanna on the cheek and joined Clara. She was more grateful that ever for having been given a haven when she needed one, but how long could even the O’Dowell’s  manage with things getting worse for everyone around her.

The service washed over her without her paying attention to it. She heard bits and pieces of the various rituals and the sermon. Other parishes were sending money. The Monseigneur had spoken to the Premier to no avail. The Bishop had spoken to the some cabinet misters but was told this was a provincial not a federal matter and so they would do nothing. The conclusion appeared to be that God helps those who help themselves, which in this case only the BritCanada Coal Company had pockets deep enough to help themsevels.

“What does helping themselves mean?” Lillian asked Mr McFadden as they made their way out after the mass.

“Pray and listen to the guidance one gets from the Lord.” 

“What if the Lord tells some helping themselves is to strike for better working conditions and tells others that accepting any working condition is better than not working at all?”

“Miss McTavish your words are dangerously similar to those of the Communists.”

“They … they are?” Her face flushed. “Perhaps I’ve been listening too much what Steven has to say about all this.”

“Miss McTavish you are in many ways still an outsider here. This isn’t Boston.”
“I comprehend that but …”

“The folks here don’t think logically. They have no idea of a future only of their stomachs in the now.”

They were in the foyer once again. The crowd was stopped at the doors.

Screams and shouts came from outside.

“Father,” one of the parishioners shouted. “They are charging with horses as we leave the church.”

The Monseigneur and her uncle pushed through the crowd.

The parishioners pushed back and she fell against the wall. An elderly women stumbled back into the church helping her husband. He was bleeding from a blow to the head.

“They rode up as we were walking down the street. Swinging their batons and hitting anyone they could reach.” The woman gasped. “Anyone! We’re not miners!”

Over the shouting she could hear the horses. Then gun shots. There was brief silence.

The miners who were still in the church rushed out. Some pulling up the picket fencing around the church lawn to give them something to use in self-defence.

Lillian cautiously went to one of the side exit doors to peer out. She saw a mass of men with wooden pickets flailing at the militia on horses wielding thick black clubs. Both sides were shouting accusations at each other.

“BritCan doesn’t even want us to go to church in peace. They have no respect for the God.”

“Commie rabble. Papist scum. Pray to your God now.”

“I knows you father Billy Davis.”

“Get off the streets now or …”

“These are our streets, ya goddamned company bastard.”

Another shot rang out. The fighting stopped a moment. The miners fell back to the church grounds. The militia pulled back a few yards to regroup.

A runner dashed up to one of the horsemen with a message.

“A man is dead because of you.” The lead horseman said. “How many more have to die before you learn your place.”

“Who?” several men shouted at once.

“Daniel Jenkis!” the horseman shouted back. “You ready to leave peacefully.”

“We was till you charged as us with no cause.” someone yelled back.

The horseman nodded and all the troops stepped forward. “If that’s how you want it we’ll trample the lot of you.”

“Kill a child. Is that what you want?”

“Not us. You behave and there’ll be no trouble.”

Lilian’s uncle pushed through the men and stood alone in front of them. “How can we disperse with you blocking the streets and sidewalk?” he asked quietly. He puts hands out palms up.

One of the horses reared and the front hooves hit her uncle. He fell forward under the horse. Lilian darted out to drag her uncle out of the horse’s way.

“Get out of the way you Catholic biddy.” One of the other horsemen laughed and Lilian glanced at him as he swung his baton at her.

“That’s it!” a male voice from the other side of that horseman shouted as the horseman was yanked backwards off the horse. She caught a glimpse of Steven O’Dowell wresting that rider to the ground.

The rider of the rearing horse had it under control and had pulled it away from the prone body of her uncle.

She knelt beside him. He was on his stomach and she wasn’t sure if she should turn him over.

“Uncle Pat can you hear me.” she said squeezing his hand.

“Yes child.” He turned his head toward her.

She saw that he was bleeding from a gash on his forehead. He pushed himself up painfully with his right arm. She struggled with his weight to help him stand. Two miners came over to take his weight from her.

“Thank you. I’m a bit winded. When I saw the beast rear before me it was the horsemen of the Apocalypse come to life to warn me. But this one was only an animal, not a messenger.”

“Lillian …” Steven came quickly to her brushing dust off his coat. “You haven’t been harmed in any way have you?”

“No, Steven I haven’t. Father Pat has been injured sorely. We must get him some medical attention.”

They helped her uncle back into the church. Inside on the benches were several others who had been assaulted by the militia. 

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Welcome to Capturing Fire 2019

Capturing Fire

Dear Trans and Queer Poets,

I am thrilled to produce the 9th annual Capturing Fire. This year we will align our opening event with Walt Whitman’s 200th year birthday May 31, 2019 as well as celebrating a second Capturing Fire Press anthology, The Fire Come Down, a collection of writing that examines the global hate we are experiencing.

We are thrilled to receive a sister city grant that allows us to archive poetry written during these times when our civil liberties are tested. This collection features writers from Paris, France as well as in Washington, DC and our Capturing Fire participants. We are also proud to debut the poetry collections of Brendan Gillett, Drew Pisarra, Tyler French & Jerrica Escoto.

Most of all, we look forward  to bringing Shannon Cain, prose writer and director of Maison Baldwin. Cain’s work to save Baldwin’s Saint Paul De Vence home as a nurturing…

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Hot-Sauced Sermon

TOpoet

Putting together the Hot-Sauced set I’ve started with the bones of my Hot Damn! set. I’m keeping some of the pieces, cutting some to create a different flow feeling. The bulk will come from the new chapbook but I’m including a different pieces & even adding a Laws piece that isn’t in the chapbook.

Pieces, at this point will be: Dead Already, Give Generously, Chalk It Up To Experience, Square Root, Win/Win, Re-Creation, Spoilers, After The Falling, Hard On, Sermon on the Mount, Breaking in Grief.

I cut my favorite ‘Man in the Moon’ to make this set less ‘in your pants’ sexually. Sometimes even I like to hold back a little. I will start the same way & end the same way though. The added pieces echo off the ones I’ve kept. Square Root, like Chalk, is about a math teacher. Sermon, like Breaking, is a piece about my…

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Dusters Delay

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Have to take a little break in Dusters to knock the time line of the final 50,000 words into shape. When I did the first draft I sometimes didn’t write it in sequence so I’m sorting out what actually goes where. Also I’d be finding what is missing to connect a few of these sections together.

Changes I’ve made already, as well as new plot points will have to be worked into what comes next. The sort of challenge I enjoy but it will call for focus to keep the flow fairly smooth in this draft.

As the story progresses the situations become more adult so the ‘boys’ adventure story style’ will shift somewhat too. I can warn you that the ride to the end is tense, emotional & takes more than a few unexpected narrative twists.

 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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A Little Sad

The past week has been both productive and at the the same time – plodding. I’ve been feeling a little sad, or is it depressed, & was not sure why. The weather is a factor – as much as I like layering I’m officially over it. The time it takes to get ready to go any where makes wanting to go any where a matter perseverance rather than of pleasure.

I’m tired of negotiating slippery, unshovelled, stretches of icy sidewalks – of spending energy trying not to fall as opposed to on what to take pictures of. Freezing my hands to use my camera had no appeal. The best part of my walks has been sending cell pics to some of the guys I see – it’s almost like having them on the walk with me.

 

Another thing that is lowering my spirits is my decision not to go to Capturing Fire this year. This is mainly financial as I need new glasses, plus I’ve already booked my visit to Cape Breton. When I booked the Cape Breton I thought it would be easy to skip Fire but it isn’t. Though, if 649 or Lotto Max pay off soon enough I’ll go.

 

I’m into the last section of Coal Dusters (only another 50,000 words to go) & I’ve been enjoying revisiting & reinvesting in these characters, I don’t really want to say goodbye to them. Though getting on to Picture Perfect will be great fun. I don’t mind feeling a little low though – it’s like the the ache of the earth as frost leaves.

Turning The News Off

I’ve lost track of what the truth is

there is one side and the other

there are the facts 

and then there is how they are 

in translation

in context

in spin

I want to confront someone

anyone

on the state of things

but no one is responsible

no one is accountable

except the receptionist

of the spokesperson

speaking on behalf of the unnamed source

 

too many people to punch 

not that I want to punch

I only want to know

what the in the hell is going on

global warming

war in (you fill in the blank)

no, it’s not a war 

it’s peace keeping

it’s rebuilding a fragile ecosystem 

with guns

with oil pipe lines

 

I want know who to believe

to have something to believe in

is the truth relevant to survival

does it matter if I find out

who killed Kennedy

as long as the buses run on time

though time is fleeting

& no one tells the right time anymore

it’s so 

no one wants to be wrong

I don’t know what right is anymore

 

which pile of bs do we attack first

besides it isn’t bs

it’s the grease that keeps the wheels turning

it’s fertilizer

so accept the stench 

& get on with what ever 

you where doing

it’s none of your business anyways

even if it’s your life

in your back yard

you may have the right to remain silent

but that seems to only 

when you know the truth

while there is no one to tell it to 

no one can change conditions

fast enough clean things up

 

you don’t understand

that may be what I said

but that isn’t want I meant

you are taking it the wrong way

twisting it to suit your view point

which is unfair

besides it is none of your business

even though 

you are the ones to pay for it 

in the long run

with your tax dollars

to figure out who did what

costs more to reveal a truth

than the damage 

the lie may or may not have caused 

if it was a lie

if it was collusion behind closed doors

it was for your benefit

so why not stop worrying

get on with your little life

leave the important stuff

to people you can’t control

who all know better than you

who can afford the price of the truth

who are free of integrity

in fact be grateful you are in the dark

it is safe there trust me

the truth isn’t relevant anymore

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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die die my darling

Currently doing the same only with Coal Dusters – I love editing 🙂

TOpoet

Into the thick of the Lazarus edits/rewrites. Started by hacking out some of my favorite scenes – die, die my darlings – not easy but once I’d made up my mind, out they went – they were fun to write and have some useable material in them – that material can be dropped into the story at other points – but neither of them really pushed the plot forward enough – so my word count goes from 99,000 to 95,500 which is already more manageable.

Here’s one of the die die my darlings that had to die: (what you may not understand in this scene would make sense in the flow of the whole story. i.e. who are Kate and David?) Although the scene explores Harris’s hereto-normativeness it doesn’t add enough. Scout is a great character, too fleshed-out to be dropped into just one scene and I really have…

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Point of View: Camera

Point of View: Camera

I turn off the sound

mute evidence

is easier to ignore

if I could turn off

the bottom of the screen scroll

I would do that

 

I see the images clearer

when I can’t hear

the inane babbling of announcers

underlining what is flickering

I don’t want to witness 

this camera-shaped reality

any more than I want to eyewitness 

these events

 

I can’t look away though

that would be denial

I have to admit these things happen 

are happening

regardless of a spin

that results in no one being accountable 

except the victims 

it is clearly their fault

for being where the camera is pointing

 

I’m fine with that

as long as the camera

never points at me


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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Forgiveness = Victim Blaming

TOpoet

17-green-01A self-righteous person (usually cismale) opens fire with a weapon of choice and kills people. There is shock, tears, reporters asking witness/survivors ‘how did you feel’ moments after – as if someone is going to say ‘oh, I felt we deserved it. we had it coming.’ This is quickly followed by the call to forgive the alleged perpetrator because without forgiveness the healing can’t begin.

17-green-02Without forgiveness the victim now is blamed for their choice to feel anger or vengeance. This pattern repeats with variations. A woman who was raped presses charges & is asked why she hasn’t forgiven her rapist. When did forgiveness become letting the allegedly guilty party off the hook. How did letting people face the consequence of their actions become unfair & unreasonable.

17-green-03Several years ago a ‘straight’ man who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a gay man was released because the…

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A Love Supreme – #Coltrane is God

TOpoet

If you follow me on Facebook you know I’m a music fan – I post there every morning what I happened to be listening to from my collection at that moment. On Mondays I have been posting here on WordPress reviews of every cd in my record collection.  I love a lot of jazz. Here are some of my favorite sax players – performers & in some cases specific cd’s.

runners.01

First & foremost there is John Coltrane: in 1996 I directed a stage production of Pinter’s The Servant. I wanted house and incidental music that captured the feel of the 60’s – something that would remind me of British TV shows like The Avengers, Danger Man – but with more jazz coolness – I had a double Lp of best of Coltrane – that lead me to the CD of Blue Train – which was perfect for my purposes –

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Big Dickens

I have the complete Dickens on my shelf – paperback & hardcover. The paperbacks are Penguin classics with lots of notes. Some of the hardcovers are the classic Oxford editions. My Nicholas Nickleby is a 2 volume reproduction of the original serialized version that includes the ads etc. Some of the books I have read more than once. I have also sat through various Masterpiece Theatre explorations of the novels, seen movies & musicals of same & have Five of the Christmas books also as mp3s. I have resisted downloading the entire works as ebook.

I’m not sure which Dickens was the first I actually read – probably A Christmas Carol, though it could have been Oliver Twist, or was the Pickwick Papers? There was one of the Pickwick stories in out high school English literature text. The one where they go skating. I was in focused pursuit at one time of getting everything, even the obscure ones, like Master Humphrey’s Clock.

It was the boy hero that captivated me. I didn’t recognize the accuracy of his depiction of the poverty of time though. Recent readings show how unstinting he was with that cultural context. People caught up in journeys, quests in following their dreams & hopes. He was a master plotter who did count on coincidence a bit much, & often fell back on the long lost relative, but who cares.

What still inspires me about him is his ability to create complex, human villains i.e. Mr. Murdstone, Daniel Quilp, Uriah Heep, Bill Sykes. He had a gift for names that rivals Shakespeare’s. His heroes were too good to be real, his women either good little wives, generous relatives or harsh thanks to the men in their lives. His narrative structure was simple, almost formulaic, stories were told in linear movements, with some backstory when needed.

I’ve always like the fact that he was an unabashed sentimentalist and that as a writer he had no compunction in manipulating the readers emotions. When I realized he wrote drafts by hand – let that sink in a little – by hand – I was staggered. Of course he was being usually paid by the word so his books did get rather long. But his shorter works are also stunning: Hard Times is one of his best works.

Day and Night

day never holds me 

as fully as the night

in light there is always

a part that doesn’t get revealed

doesn’t get illuminated

turn as fast as I can

part of me is always in shadow

 

light is not the total lover

always leaves one part untouched

night covers all

nothing gets omitted 

over-looked

holds me in toto

comforting tender complete

caressing even where I cannot see

I was submerged and protected

no night burn for me 

for being too long naked in its glance

but I do welcome the sun

the energy released in my flesh and bones

by the ignition of my skin

 

if I had to make choice 

between night and day

as to which would be the better lover

I couldn’t say

day brings flowers

night brings stars

both return despite 

my placid display of cliches

tender is the night

bright is the day

as one retreats 

to make way for the other

I am saddened

I want to hold them both

straddle those slippery moments

when one makes way

gracefully stepping aside 

they do not fight 

to see who will be next

there is no resentment

that I have taken each 

in their own time

that I give myself equally to them

give myself without question 

without doubt

so do not make me choice

 

when I die

will I go into the light

or merely roll over 

into the comforting dark

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet