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WV Proud

Promises to Keep


If you think the mountains will be there
Standing as they always have been
For our children to enjoy their majesty
Then you'd better think again

Nothing is ever certain
We've learned from our past
But who ever thought a mountain
Would be what wouldn't last

I taught my children about nature
As soon as they began to walk
The squirrels den, the pheasant hen
And a little finger pointing to a hawk

With camera in hand I walked this land
To capture the face of God
What I see instead is a land cold and dead
That land that I once trod

I used to look below… at green waters flow
And bright turning leaves, red, yellow and brown
Now the machines are in place to destroy nature's face
Amidst a God awful sound

Does no good to cry, get tears in your eye
What was to last forever is now gone for good
There's a dragline in my heart ripping me apart
As I stand where my grandfathers stood

Let us look unto these hills before they are fills
And remember the aren't ours to give
They belong to God, rock, tree and sod
Put there so that we may live

When we look at our Maker's mountains
They are His for us to keep
Now please forgive me and my God
While we stand here and weep

Gary Epling

About the Author

Gary Epling

Gary Epling was born and raised in Coal River, another small mining town, about 30 minutes from Montcoal. After several years of being away, Gary returned to his hometown after the disaster and received the inspiration to write the poem.

In Gary's words, "I am not anti-coal since many of my friends and family worked there. What I do oppose is a particular type of mining called "Mountain Top Removal". It wrecks the environment and adversely affects the health and resources of those in a community. I was terribly shaken when I climbed a mountain top ridge and looked upon the devastation cause by irresponsible mining for the sake of profit. This wasn't just any mountain, just any river, or just any land. This was the mountain God gave me to explore, enjoy and love as a growing boy. The poem only begins to capture my sorrow and my anger."