The real work of    altering the landscape         |         petroglyphs always

to accommodate        the requirements of         |         face the river 

the railroad was       provided largely by          |         too high up

African American         slaves contracted          |         to be seen from a boat 

out to the railroad        and Irish laborers.         |         

The Irish were                 important in the          |         minstrels blacken

construction of           the Cowan Tunnel,          |         their faces but

especially in the             blasting, because          |         never their eyes

owners of contracted           slaves would          |         

expect recompense if they were harmed,          |          yes boss I will do that

while the Irish were                 considered      |          I will lay my head

                                                   expendable.         |          upon the brow of the hill

                                                                                  |          I will do that for you


                                                                                  |          listen for the train 

                                                                                  |         diddly diddly boom 


                                                                                  |         carve your head upon my shoulder




1 Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture,  

Susan Charkes lives in southeastern PA. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals. She is also the author of three nonfiction books about the outdoors.