Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
The Reserved Section

By Wilbur D. Nesbit

(At the time of the great anthracite coal strike of 1902, George F. Baer, head of the coal trust, was quoted as declaring: “The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for, not by labor and agitation, but by the Christian men to whom God in his infinite wisdom has given control of the property interests of this country”)
IN the prehistoric ages, when the world was a ball of mist—
A seething swirl of something unknown in the planet list;
When the earth was vague with vapor, and formless and dark and void—
The sport of the wayward comet—the jibe of the asteroid—
Then the singing stars of morning chanted soft: “Keep out of there!        5
Keep off that spot which is sizzling hot—it is making coal for Baer!”
When the pterodactyl ambled, or fluttered, or swam, or jumped,
And the plesiosaurus rambled, all careless of what he bumped,
And the other old time monsters that thrived on the land and sea,
And did not know what their names were, any more than today do we—        10
Wherever they went they heard it: “You fellows keep out of there—
That place which shakes and quivers and quakes—it is making coal for Baer.”
The carboniferous era consumed but a million years;
It started when earth was shedding the last of her baby tears,
When still she was swaddled softly in clumsily tied on clouds,        15
When stars from the shop of nature were being turned out in crowds;
But high o’er the favored section this sign said to all: “Beware!
Stay back of the ropes that surround these slopes—they are making coal for Baer!”

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