manumission

“Manumission”, “Cigarette Flick” and “The Westbury Elegies #2”

by James Hamby

manumission

Manumission

…from the mud, spiraling double-helix

intent upon apotheosis


ersatz DNA, verisimilitude

of countless generations


separating us from

first mover/primordial ooze


copies of copies

effigies of weltschmerz


simulacra of daedalian

dreams melted by sunrays


burning as we venture too close

or wake, blinking at the morn.


What then? Can we escape the cave,

turn from shadow to illumination,


or should we find contentment

in mud and echoes?

Cigarette Flick

Speeding down 27…

from forgettable sedan

erupts puncticular orange defiance

weaving through night


on asphalt flame shatters,

flutters into earth-bound stars

swirling, rolling,


fading in my rearview.

The Westbury Elegies #2

Amidst potsherds, weeping for her children,

(picking at, scratching her scab-riddled wounds)

Fodder for the hospitals, graveyards, prisons,

Schools, and armies—ignorance and want.

Bear it all, the wretched of the earth,

In your grayish, aching ways. The streets

Will hold your refuse, your blood; all your worth

Calculated and weighed, fettered hands and feet.

Then will he bear his fated blow in turn,

When oak and pine are warring, intertwined?

What tree will lift him up? How can we learn

To hang upon them, turning inward an eye?

Then keep wandering, treading all the barren ground,
Searching for the water in the stone.
About the Author

James Hamby

James Hamby is the assistant director of the Writing Center at Middle Tennessee State University. His poetry has appeared in Measure, The Road Not Taken, Light, and other publications.