Belly Full

This time of year
many folk in Appalachia
are out buck hunting
using a 90-pound compound bow

When a buck gets hit
in the chest with a three-bladed
arrow, he will almost always
outrun the hunter

for the arrow shaft plugs the hole
and after a mile or so
blood stops falling to the ground
but pools in the chest instead

Meanwhile, in this mountain county,
all is well:

the deep mines are closed
the oil rigs capped
the canvas mills slowed

which means:

no more black lung
no more brain splitters
no more card room fever

Everyone is fed
with foodstamps, government
cheese and butter

the welfare lines snake clear
around the court house
and men and women can spend the rest
of every day watching t.v.
eating moon pies and surplus rice

The government used to watch
closely this area, but now
that all the problems are over
they don't look much anymore

If you drive along highway 27
house after house, smoke snakes
out of the chimney
blue light in the livingroom
everyone sits, and sits, and sits
No one knows why bellies get fatter and fatter
after all, there are no blood tracks
within a mile of Estel County.

J.H.B. was a lay missioner with the Episcopal Church in Appalachia when this poem appeared.

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