Visiting his birthplace in the Appalachian coalfields,
he witnesses the aftermath of mountaintop removal.

Decapitated hills spill their heavy-metal brains
into valleys and streams below. Mutilated ridges

make him recollect the dreaded childhood task
of killing chickens—an axe swing spurring
headless birds on a last dash from death.

Now in shadowed afternoon, ancient mountains
kneel along the interstate, awaiting the blade.