If you take a man
And pound him
Into a machine—
Not even that,
A gear in a machine
Which he cannot see—
But its pull is felt
Every day of his lifetime—
And if this man
Knows that he is worthless
To the monster that owns him—
Is it any wonder
That this shamed beast
Should rule his family
By fist and roar?
And could such a man,
Who cannot shit at work
Without reprimand,
Who eats between whistles,
Who knows not the feeling of his skin
Or his father’s skin
Without benefit of coal dust—
Could such a man be so far
From raising a darkened hand
To the only subordinates
He will ever have?

And what of the son
Of this man,
Who has never seen his father
In strong daylight,
(Save on bleak Christmases
When presents are socks)—
Who has no one to tell him
Get out of this place—
Who does not hear but feels
The resentment of this man
As the boy
From rock to rock
And the man sits stooped in pain
Beneath smudged twilight—
Can this boy leave
Such a father?

Can he hate
Such a father?

Or must he become
His father,
Kept in the trap of making it
For his mother,
And this man
Whose tarred lungs promise
Twenty years of bills

Can this boy be anyone
But his father’s son?


Emily Blair is a sophomore English major, double focusing in Creative Writing and Literature, with plans to graduate in Spring 2015. She would like to thank Kara Dodson, a Fall 2012 Virginia Tech graduate, for giving her the inspiration for “Earthshattering,” Dr. Jack Dudley, retired University Honors director, for believing she could give voice to Appalachia, and her family for never asking her to write or dream less.