I live a breath's away from the oldest river in the world.
While I don't take much of nature in it is awe inspiring,
to be sure.
I live within the crook of the oldest mountains in our history.
Not the tallest,
nor the proudest,
but for now these ranges are growing senile within their misery.
The riverrun through it and exposes rock perhaps a billion years old.
Our oral histories, passed on legends,
scary stories and mountaineer folklore accounts for
such a small passage of time.
We built a bridge once.
It was at one time the longest single-span arch in the world.
Now it's the fourth.
Top five, and that's something for which I am proud.
The oldest river, in the world.
The oldest mountains, in the world.
The highest fatal overdose rate, in the States.
There is a beauty to be had here. Somewhat backwards, but
growing up our water was clear.
It's now choked from coal slurry.
The brain drain of young adults leaving, in much hurry,
hurts us as the ones that remain become grey and blurry.
We are living in a permanent winter and we have high roads,
that wind and curve. Dangerous when icy. veins filled with
heavy loads and nodding verve.
I live a breath's away from the oldest river in the entire world.
I can't touch Roman ruins with my hands, or
sift through the Dead Sea and float on salt above sand.
I can't touch the hill where Jesus may have died,
I don't know what it feels like to hold history as pride.
But our trees even when green have a dusty coal darkened sheen.
Summer is overgrowth from the Springtime rains.
The highest fatal overdose rate in the entire United States.
Where once we built bridges to close in the gap of travel.
We unzip black bags with rigs and object with obvious cavil.
Our industry is old, the world is moving on from coal.
For better, to be sure, but in the meantime we grow cold.
Not from lack of heat, we can boil our spoons just fine.
But we need a replacement from shaft or the mountaintop mine.
Let us worry about beauty again,
let us treat addiction with correction instead of levying it as sin.
Remove the pantomiming politician speak
of addicts or the sick as being weak.
Let's find ourselves again, West Virginia. You're the only home I've known.
Childhood summertimes sat beneath canopies of caterpillar home,
the happy baby butterflies eating leaves so more sun could shone.
Walking sticks used to play with me in my yard,
and at nighttime I'd still be outside mouth agape at the stars.
Evening meant lightning bugs and I'd capture a few in the cup of my hands.
There was a whimsy to how nature responded to us,
how bees would bumble and land,
on the dandelions whose seeds I'd spread as I blew on their white
Maybe it's nostalgia and my memories are tinted rosy.
The smell of wood stoves burning in winter,
the crispness of autumn breezes felt cozy.
There was a trust held in communities, or maybe I was naïve.
Some of my friends made a choice and moved.
Others among us took a more permanent leave.
My brother, too. He himself got in a lot of trouble.
Over the cotton swab boiled to a bubble.
He died when I was young so maybe everybody is right.
It's all sentimentality and a lot of lonely nights.
But does the past being fucked up make the worsening now fine?
I live a breath's away from the oldest river and mountain range.
I live with the highest fatal overdose rate in the United States.
there's much debate as to whether the New River or the Appalachian/Blue Ridge/Allegheny mountains are, in fact, the oldest.
there is, however, no debate as to whether or not West Virginia (WV) holds the highest fatal overdose rate in the US
In 2010 WV held one of the highest fatal overdose rates,
By 2017 much of the country's overdose rates increased
WV's 2010 numbers are higher than 60% of the country's 2017 numbers,
and WV's 2017 are higher than everybody else's.
This is not to meant to take away the pain that's transcended broadly throughout the country. This is not meant to be diminishing, not even remotely, but it is meant to shine a solemn light.
I'm sorry for those of you that may know somebody who has passed on from drugs, or that may be currently struggling with their addictions. Whether it's opiates, alcohol, or prescriptions.
But let's try to remove some of the stigma surrounding addiction.
Forgive some stolen money.
Avoid gossip and rumor.
Reach out to somebody who may have fallen away from the crowd.
I'd much rather live with an addict than haunted by a ghost.
thank you for reading