We Take Our Color From The Mines
We take our color from the mines;
A frost of ash atop our coarse dark hair.
With brimstone flecks in the linarite of our eyes,
We see what lies in darkness—
Black holes to hell.
We age too quickly, gray too quickly;
Spackled black throughout the gray,
We are old men before our time.
Our scarlet cheeks,
The queen pink of our brows—
Mere mortuary makeup,
As a rook on its own is a crow.
A crow in a crowd is a rook,
As a collier in the ground
Knows only rope as he goes down;
Jointed fingers curl,
Hydraulic, like the legs
Of a noble false widow with no heartbeat.
The Sea Was Never A Friend To Us
The sea was never a friend to us.
We spent as little of our time
Upon it as we could.
Death was ever-present in the tunnels,
Still, we found solace in their fertile girth.
We were as moths in love with light,
Though born of blackness.
Where the water met the shore,
Such a fury,
Such a crippling wildness—
Sea, and its ferocity,
Beneath the ground was where
Our kind were meant to die.
We could breathe there ‘til we couldn’t.
To the sea, we gave refusal.
We built walls against its chill,
Against its back-breaking wake.
We drew our fish from the rivers,
Wages from the mines,
We defied the angry opulence
In poems of decadent glisten.
Neither God’s repeated wrath,
Nor another crude invasion
Could extract us from the glumness of our labors.
With a mandrill and two fingers
Bare between us,
On pews in disrepair,
We stretched our prayers
From the river to the rim.
We Are Forced To Face One Another
We are forced to face one another
Over rough tables and slumping candles.
Wood warps under silence,
Surfaces buckling like sway-backed cobs.
All that’s left are the great, black chimneys
Uneven at the water like dead matches in the ash
Of a rare night when we speak. You laugh when I speak of leaving,
“If they don’t need you here, they won’t need you there.”
It’s true that I’m old; we were all born this way,
With a knowledge of work, and the dull grief of subsistence.
To take action that speaks loudly is a luxury
Withheld from us by blight.
Flat electric light that stole our ghosts,
Stole our dreams of phantom funerals.
While we work, pianos play themselves.
When we sing, we all face forward.