Dogs at Midnight by Tom Paxton

Added 7 October 2006

This is is a great poem/song by Tom Paxton about miner's black lung, a serious health problem for coal miners. I have transcribed it below to read more as a poem than a song (taking out the repeat of the chorus, etc.)

Dogs at Midnight

You might hear dogs at midnight,
High up a treeless hill,
Workin' their own graveyard shift,
And howlin' out their fill,
While down below in Coal Town,
A woman lies awake,
And hears her sleeping husband fight,
For every breath he takes.

Oh, the rockslide may not get you,
The fire might pass you by.
When the gas goes up,
It might not be your time to die;
But every year gets harder
To draw a simple breath
When the black lung gets you,
That's the kiss of death.

You might see old men waiting,
On the county courthouse green.
Tellin' tales at noontime,
Of the bitter sights they've seen.
It makes a postcard picture there,
Beside the courthouse door,
Unless you know just why they're waitin',
And what they're waitin' for.