The Day the X-Man Came

Appalachia mountains

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 10 No. 1, "Who Owns Appalachia?" Find more from that issue here.

I lived in my house

for 33 years

Before the flood came,

before the land let loose its


I thought that if you worked

hard 33 years, well

Then just 12 more

and you could sit and rest

a spell.


I remember one corner of

the house

was leanen and fallen in

33 years ago.

When my old man came

haulen in

wood and blocks and we

set in

To builden year by year,

builden what we never had


It was slow, hard to see

any end to the builden

and hammerin,


We saved that corner, built

it back —

laid away and saved and

raised five more

to lay away and save.


All our lives

We ain’t never missed a day

of payen some way,

Doing the best we can,

But I’m 52 and

He’s 62

And it’s way too late for them

E-Z credit plans

Carpet, couch, the family


Baby shoes and Bible too

Went floaten on down to

Kermit and Crum

Floaten away to Kingdom



And I know they

Ain’t no amount of misery

Gonna bring them sweet


Back to me

And I know it, I know it, I

know it

But I still can’t see

Why we gotta pay

Them Judas strippers to

haul us away.


How on earth can we



Selling our land

On the installment plan?

And all them politicians that

never do

nothing but pat me on the


and tell a lie or two.

Later or sooner, it’s all


them flood’s garnisheed


they’ll garnishee you.


Well, it took all of them years,

All 33,

Floods and floods and barrels

of tears

To bring me to this day

And I sit and I cry and I wail

and I moan.

But no amount of hurt and


Gonna float me back my



So I just sit and wait

for the X-man to come

burn my builden down


Not much else to say

33 years

washed away

Jim Webb