Easter 1914

Inside one of the miner’s tents: a big hole.
Weedroots like skinny hands stick out
from crumbling dirt walls.
The children, curled up inside, listen below them
for the noise of molefeet scraping in underground tunnels.
Scared, the 13 snuggle closer together

(bodies: cold, damp;
small nervous
shrieks and shouts)

until suddenly a mother’s hand, knuckles
like tiny boulders,
bashes one of them in the mouth

(mine wars mean
you gotta be quiet).

Later, the soldiers come and torch
the canvas; flames
jar the kids from halfsleep —
they panic, claw
at anything they can touch, no longer remembering
the old nursery rhymes

(“this little piggy
went to market”).

They all die.
Before it’s over, however,
one striker, Bill Snyder, tries to barrel
his way into the tent to save his 11 year old son,
but a militiaman chases him off, yelling
“Get outa here you bastard
before I shoot another fuckin hole
in your ass!”

Robert Bohm is a writer on culture and a poet. His most recent book of poems is What the Bird Tattoo Hides (2015, West End Press, New Mexico). He has been a political activist since his tour of duty with the army in 1967-68. Over the years, he has worked on wide range of issues, including antiwar, labor, racism and education. He is currently working on a book about the U.S. left's failure to develop new strategies and tactics for confronting advanced capitalism. Of his six books, one is a nonfiction work on India, his wife's homeland where they have spent much time in the southern state of Karnataka. Read other articles by Robert.