Mining Poetry by Joel Tankersley
The Ballad of Bicuspid Bill
Two dog is your typical miner,
a friend, a sinner, saint.
There some things he's good at,
and then there's some he ain't.
Swing shift begins in the afternoon,
it ends promptly at eleven.
There's three men on graveyard,
and dayshift starts at seven.
These were things to count on,
in the winter cold.
Cabin fever, it abound,
every time it snowed.
So to keep a level play,
in the frozen parts.
A no sunshine society formed,
it was hockey, suds, and darts.
Once during a Friday meeting,
straight from the Bulldog mines own dry.
We found a companion standing alone,
we heard a mournful cry.
We all at the bar to ask him,
why the moan and wail?
He said, "I have a pain within my head,
it stabs me like a nail."
Bill opened his mouth downed three shots,
a whisky, gin, vermouth.
He said, "I wish there was a dentist here,
I have a rotten tooth."
Well Bill, said Paul, it's an awful haul,
down to Doc Goodrow.
He would probably see you at night,
if you brave the ice and snow.
No said Bill, this glass I'll fill,
I wont bother that old man.
I just sit and nurse myself,
and get by best I can.
So all said ok and left him lay,
suffering in his gin.
Until his partner Two Dog,
turned to him in grin.
Tom said, see in my hand these pliers.
I'll set you in a booth.
I'll clean off the grease,
and I'll pull that rotten tooth.
There alone in history,
good sense not correct.
Bill pain wracked, whisky numb,
headed for a wreck.
And it started in the corner,
a few to hold Bill sound.
No doubt it woulda been better,
if they laid him on the ground.
Some one heard Tom say,
Bill, now open wide.
The very first tug drew some blood,
there was nowhere now to hide.
Bill screamed like the banshee,
hit Two Dog in the jaw.
Booger Monkey and Paul in tow,
it was an old time free for all.
They pushed across the floor,
bowled over Johnnie Magert.
Get back Jaws, Mahone and Betts
Jenny said, "Let's go Kurt."
They crashed into a pool game,
starring Drunken Ira, Lowell and Big Mo.
Those pliers still in place,
how Bill fought them so.
Right into that table,
8 balls on the floor.
They slid down the bar rail,
and smashed a cuspidor.
All good citizens became involved,
they held Bills body arms and head.
There were tourists at the door,
they went somewhere else instead.
With one quick twist from Snap-on,
it was over with a pop.
bartender get off the phone,
don't call coroner wives or cop.
With ivory now extracted,
night shift crew retreating.
Bill, they left there on the floor
at the bar they called a meeting.
Calls for drinks, let's examine the prize.
The laughter of Hippy Pete,
Fatman, Kevin let's see that thing.
George, dear have a seat.
In a tissue a molar placed,
it passed from hand to hand.
Smiles from each cherub face
worth a hundred grand.
Comments in the mirror
say, now that's a sight
Some battle scarred with the place tore up
Say Bill, are you alright?
You know the final question,
Was it from Bob Bernt, Paul or Kurt?
Said Bill, this tooth is pearly white.
Is this the one that hurt?
Down a narrow canyon,
a frozen river winds.
Through the open valley,
just beyond the pines.
Doc Goodrow was the finest,
that's where mother sent us.
Bill found out the hard way,
Two Dog ain't no dentist.
© 1997 Joel Tankersley