Skip to content

Story Poem about a Coal Mine Horse

September 23, 2020


Autumnal Greetings!


As Mother Nature turns the Midwest into autumnal shades of golds, oranges, and reds and as the nights grow longer and cooler, do you ever sit back and recall the scary stories you heard during your youth? The most remarkable of such stories in my neighborhood sprang before our imaginations when our neighbor Margie told my sister and me the story of the mine horse that allegedly passed away (decades before we were born) in the mine pond on the property adjacent to our woods. For the following story poem, I took Margie’s storytelling effort and embellished it a little for you although traces of truth are woven through the verses.


After you read the following story poem, dust off a scary story from your storytelling past and try sharing it with someone or a group one night this autumn.


* * *


In a Dream Came the White, Mine Horse


Story Poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



In a dream came the white horse

whose story Margie told.

The massive, milky white horse,

who had worked at the coal mine

that bordered our property line,

galloped gracefully into my dream

to tell me the stories

of the turn-of-the-century mines,

the Indiana mines of the early 1900s, and much more.


Born in Italy, in 1879, my grandfather–

who, despite his 6’1”-height,

worked the mines for too many years–

insisted with only a light Italian accent and a couple of tears,

“None of my four sons will ever set foot

in a coal mine.”

None did.


Yet, the massive, milky white horse

from the old mine near my house

trots boldly into my dream.

“I know your story. Go away! Go away!

I do not have an apple nor hay for you,” I say.


He whinnies with laughter and does not obey.

The massive, milky white horse speaks in my dream,

“Don’t you know I eat coal dust?

Do you know why my eyes are yellow?

Because from all those miners,

I caught the lust for gold.”

He whinnies with laughter, and my body turns cold.


“Forget this pretense of the present tense,” I snap.

“Margie told me you drowned in that old pond—

the pond, near the shale hill, our mountain.”


“Oh, so, you do know why I am

so massive and milky white.”


“If you had really worked in the mine,

you wouldn’t be so tall and white.

Just go! Go, and let me sleep.”


“Listen, I was not always a horse of twenty hands;

as a colt, I was a white or cream.

Of course, when I worked, I grew gray and black

from the ever-present coal dust.

How that life weighed down my back!

But, after all those years

of washing in that old pond,

I turned a milky white

so that I could take flight

into your dream to tell you:

lobby against Cavallo Coal Company—

they will blast and scrape and sour

your pretty, little town.”


I lie back down, but cannot sleep.

Wiping coal dust from my eyes, I begin to weep.


* * *


Enjoy all the beauty of this early autumn!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


September 23, 2020, Wednesday




From → Uncategorized

  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    You knew when you posted this that I would love it for two reasons: a lifelong love of horses, and the reference to a coal mine’s destruction of a pretty little town, similar to John Prine’s “Paradise” which has the same theme albeit a different town and a different coal mine. Some elements of the story are familiar to me, perhaps from a long ago conversation. Beautifully written, and just right in the scary department!

    • Hi, Sue–I am glad to know that this poem appeals to horse lovers also.  Many thanks for reading and commenting!

      Take care, and enjoy the autumn splendor!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice,
    Your story poem about the white horse made me feel as though I was actually in that dream! I have a clear memory of the small still pond filled with water that was colored a milky green. I don’t think I ever approached the pond, but kept a lookout from the foot of “our mountain.” On my recent trip to Indiana, I drove by our home site to find it looking lovely! “Our mountain” is grown over and covered with huge trees. Getting back to look for the mining pond would be a challenging trek through the dense Indiana woods. I do wonder if the pond is still there with its surreal color and stillness. Thank you for creating such a mystifying mood in this poem. I’m sure Margie would enjoy how your imagination and expression have enhanced her story.
    Happy Autumn to you and Willow!
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks for adding your perspectives to this post!  Yes, the pond was a greenish color and was, to us, foreboding.  Without you, but with a friend or two, I do recall walking somewhat near the pond.  At that time, in the 1950s or early 1960s, the area surrounding the pond was completely made of shale with no vegetation.  The land around the pond seemed like a desert of shale, instead of sand.  I believe that eventually a fence was constructed around the green pond that was once property of the coal mine.  With a big yard, field, woods, shale “mountain, and the green pond, as well as our relatives’ grocery store, aunt’s Italian restaurant, and the Blanford Park–our play areas were many and varied.  Of course, we also enjoyed the playgrounds of Jacksonville Grade School, which was just a couple of “country blocks” away from our Blanford home in our home state of Indiana.

      Happy Autumn!

      Alice and Willow

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: