Poetry Poster: Milk

This poster features an expressive interpretation of a poem by Diane Gilliam. I designed and crafted the poster for Women on the Line, a poetry reading and exhibit to raise awareness about My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter in Southeast Ohio. This particular poem, Milk, is about the relationship between two Appalachian coal-mining families. The forms of the poster echo the features of land after it has been strip-mined. This poster has been vinyl cut in 4 layers.

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Poem Text:

MILK

Mama always said, you can’t feed a baby
if there’s no happiness in the milk.  Now, we
didn’t judge a man by what he had, but
by whether he took his pay home
before he went to the bar, and Burns Cantrell
did not.  And he hit Meardie, which wasn’t
no fault of hers, Mama said.  So when she
had a baby come in strike time, Mama
bought two tins of canned milk out of the
dollar a week the company store
allowed each family for food and sent me
to set them on Cantrell’s porch every Monday
after Burns had went up the hill.  Now,
it was the law among the miners that, come
a roof fall, you run.  Everybody knowed
that was how it was.  If you stop and look back
to see who’s dead or trapped, you
only make more dead.  Four days after the men
went back in, there come a bad roof fall, killed
sixteen.  Daddy was back behind.  Right off
the rocks broke one backbone and his jaw
in five places.  Burns Cantrell was up front.
He heard them rocks begin to fall and he run,
back into the hole, pitch black and the mountain
crumbling like the end of the world,
and carried Daddy out.  He knowed
he owed my mama for the milk.