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Mike Hauser Feb 2016
As long as it takes
These calloused hands
To tell you their story
I could show you instead

Grab me a hammer
And a handful of nails
As I turn the page
With these calloused hands

Years in the making
Working the land
Just like my daddy
And his before him

It's just what we do
Mono a mono as men
All we go through
With calloused hands

Hear what I say
Watch what I do
This story's as old
As it is new

I thank God every day
That I still can
Through life make my way
With these calloused hands
Anne M Jan 2013
My hands are calloused
from cold mornings with hot coffee
spent—not wasted—digging
for history.

My hands are scratched
from hoping and praying
as I reach blindly into holes
desperate for something
more than a sherd.

My hands are the victims
of archaeology—destroyed
to prove they existed.

My hands are calloused
from the silent nights
when I rock myself to sleep
clutching shoulder blades
that would make Occam
blush.

My hands are stained
from writing down words
that are too often forced.
Like your name.
I smudged it today
as I passed it by.

I’ve never felt more sinister.

My hands are calloused
from assuming.
That plate’s not too hot.
Yes, I can hold that.
Yes, I can manage.
NO. I don’t need help.
I need

Space.


My hands are sore
from pulling when everyone else
pushed.
My hands are bruised
from doors and windows that shut
too fast.

My hands are calloused
from the rails I grip
because I walk too hard.
My hands are calloused
because I’m not made for
waiting.

My hands are calloused
because they’ve already
faced
a succession of eternities
and they’re determined
to weather more.
Calloused is defined as having a hardened area of skin.

But I would venture to guess
That if you looked at my heart
And compared it to
My feet and my hands
That my feet and my hands
Would be in better shape.
See manicures and pedicures exist
But regardless of all the wear on my heart.
There's no procedure that can soften it.

Life has taken sandpaper to me.
Marring me through
Missteps in love
And searing loss.
Leaving me hardened,
Which served its purpose,
At least I wouldn't be easily hurt anymore.

I avoided love.
Not out of fear, I'd tell myself,
But because I was done looking for it.
I'd tell people that I was waiting for love to find me.
And so I'm still waiting
Or hiding.
From the fear of opening up.
From the fear of softening.

It's hard to be yourself
When you know that
You're scarred
Or scared
Or both.
So the callouses come in handy.
Keeping me from pain and hurt.

Actually, I prefer the term hardened to calloused.
Simply for the sake of finding a better connotation.
I'd rather be hardened by my circumstances
Than calloused by them.
I'd rather be hardened by the hurt
Than calloused by it.
And if loss were to strike me in the face again,
I'd rather be hardened,
Instead of calloused.

But if you'd grab a dictionary
You wouldn't be fooled by my attempt,
At clever wordplay.
You'd realize that both are the same,
And that whatever I'd chosen to call myself
Didn't matter.
I was still as broken as ever.
Still scarred.
Still scared.
As hardened
As calloused
As ever.
wren cole Jul 2016
the thing about being sexually assaulted at a very young age
is that when you are older you will start to associate anything ****** with the first experience you ever had
but it won't feel like butterflies
it will feel like ten showers, not enough, scratching at your skin and vomiting to get any part of him that may still linger out of you even though so many years have passed
the thing is
people will laugh when you say your brother is a terrible person
and their laughter will taste like the bile that burns your throat after you've purged the thoughts away again
i have learned to crave deviant things because all tame actions have been tainted for me
do not touch me with those calloused fingertips,  they remind me too much of hiding in my closet and no one needs to know
dig your nails in instead
the thing is
he is legally "perpetrator," not my "******"
because when both parties are under 18 it's called "child on child ****** assault"
not ****
even though he groomed and manipulated me like any adult ****** would
and I didn't understand but he did
but he is not my ******
it doesn't feel that way
the thing is
i have now learned to fear calloused hands and large men and ****** hair when it's groomed a certain way
i have learned
that rapists come dressed in a smile and their girlfriends will say they're just like big teddy bears
i have learned
to  cry at the thought of pleasure because it feels wrong and grimy
i don't know if i will ever feel clean,
do not TOUCH me with those calloused fingertips, dig your nails in instead
it will feel like butterflies
Kimber Smith Feb 2013
My hands became calloused as I held tight to the idea that things would get better and white knuckles turned to arthritis almost overnight it seemed. I was never patient enough to wait for things to come in time and that saying never meant much anyway. So by the time I was ready to end it all the better part of life was waiting in the shadows almost like spring does in the ending suns of winter. My hands became calloused as I held on to the idea that things would once again become bad, and that the better part of life would be stolen from me like all the loves of the past. I became to busy being scared of losing it all to enjoy the warmth around me. Then soon like I had feared I was alone again and the spring was something I endured just to get to the summer where love sometimes blooms which is odd about life... My hand became calloused as I clutched the phone waiting for some sort of something to let me know this wasn't all life had for me
Ryan Clark Feb 2015
It is hard to grasp the stars,
when you stare at the dirt;
and only see your calloused hands.

You look forward;
yet see nothing.
You look behind
and feel regret.
Your body
Your mind
Tired

There is no sense of direction
There is no inspiration
starring upon your calloused hands

You, *** and bang
against the grain,
rambling on;
Not knowing
if you move,
Forward or
Reverse.

Time doesn't stand
Only your task at hand
starring upon your calloused hands.

Friends and family
are just a luxury.
Soon
they will be gone,
leaving you,
to grind away...
Again.

The task is complete;
Looking down to see
Nothing ... but your winkled hands.
Not my fav., but I'm trying not to loose inspiration. This is a fee form
Caroline B Nov 2012
A penny sits in the middle of my hand.
Vaguely warm and slightly worn
But still shining brightly.
On one side you see the current residence of
The late Abraham Lincoln.
On the other you see the man himself
Facing to the right
As if watching for assassins.
I roll it around in my palm,
The rough edges scraping past my
Calloused hands.
I can almost hear it sigh
With relief as I put it back
Down again.
Caitlin Jun 2014
I never knew what beauty was until I saw him
With every imperfection,
With every stumble,
and with every stutter,
My heart knocks hard inside my chest
Trying to escape
Hoping to be captured by his warm, calloused fingers.
And you don't even know who I am

That day you bumped into me
I dropped all my books
You helped me pick them up
And I got to look into your eyes
They were a lovely color
Not even Picasso could recreate
And you still don't even know who I am

We bumped into one another again at a party
You slurred apologies and "excuse me's"
And I laughed it off
Trying to Ignore the fact that your hand was creeping on my waist
Your fingertips igniting sparks in my skin
You held your deep gaze with your Picasso-colored eyes
And dragged me into a room tripping over nothing
I thought you finally knew who I was

The next day at school you bumped into me again
You had dropped my phone
This time you didn't pick it up
And you walked away without a second glance or apology
And you still don't even know who I am
Jessie Jan 2014
Your soul is like your fingers
Such calloused hands
How rough you are
How abrasive you can be
Doesn't measure up
To the toughness of your heart
I admire your resiliency
My only wish is that
You would soften up to me
Know it's okay to get cuts and scratches
And even to show off your scars
Show me your sensitive underbelly
Trust me enough to fall asleep next to me
Like how animals sleep tummy side up
When they feel safe
Shed your hard layers
Feel my gentle interior
Know that it will always be
Okay.
May E V Watson Nov 2015
My skin is frying, I can't stop crying, I feel like I'm dying.
Your touch soothes my fever, your arms hold me together, your bed is my grave.
...
  This flame of desire inside me burning so bright,
only you can save me on this night.
...
Here I lay dripping with desire,
for your arrival to calm my fire.
  Fill me, tempt me, push me to the limit,
with your burning, chilling touch of Frostbite,
Please save me this night!
...
Call me your "Good Girl", pet me, Play,
withdraw your heat and watch me sway,
Please Sir, don't take this blissful feeling away.
...
I wait on my knees by your side,
Not because I am expected to,
but because it is where I feel safest.
...
**** me roughly, love me tenderly
Strip me bare till there's nothing left, build me up and tear me apart
In your calloused hands, I place my tender heart.
...
Gree has moved away and I was turned to the Dom/sub culture shortly beforehand. I just started having the words stick in my head and wanted to say them somewhere.  
  This is unfinished as of yet and I will be adding to in in the coming weeks as inspiration hits.
Ivy Haegan Jul 2014
My father wears
leather work boots
they are tough and worn
with thick but thinning soles

My father has
calloused hands
they are thick and strong
from years of work and guitar

My father plays
an old guitar
it's beautiful and cracked
and comes to life at his touch

My father has
a big heart
as worn as his boots
strong as his hands
and more beautiful than his old guitar
by
Alexander K Opicho

(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

When I grow up I will seek permission
From my parents, my mother before my father
To travel to Russia the European land of dystopia
that has never known democracy in any tincture
I will beckon the tsar of Russia to open for me
Their classical cipher that Bogy visoky tsa dalyko
I will ask the daughters of Russia to oblivionize my dark skin
***** skin and make love to me the real pre-democratic love
Love that calls for ambers that will claw the fire of revolution,
I will ask my love from the land of Siberia to show me cradle of Rand
The European manger on which Ayn Rand was born during the Leninist census
I will exhume her umbilical cord plus the placenta to link me up
To her dystopian mind that germinated the vice
For shrugging the atlas for we the living ones,
In a full dint of my ***** libido I will ask her
With my African temerarious manner I will bother her
To show me the bronze statues of Alexander Pushkin
I hear it is at ******* of the city of Moscow; Petersburg
I will talk to my brother Pushkin, my fellow African born in Ethiopia
In the family of Godunov only taken to Europe in a slave raid
Ask the Frenchman Henri Troyat who stood with his ***** erected
As he watched an Ethiopian father fertilizing an Ethiopian mother
And child who was born was Dystopian Alexander Pushkin,
I will carry his remains; the bones, the skull and the skeleton in oily
Sisal threads made bag on my broad African shoulders back to Africa
I will re-bury him in the city of Omurate in southern Ethiopia at the buttocks
Of the fish venting beautiful summer waters of Lake Turkana,
I will ask Alexander Pushkin when in a sag on my back to sing for me
His famous poems in praise of thighs of women;

(I loved you: and, it may be, from my soul
The former love has never gone away,
But let it not recall to you my dole;
I wish not sadden you in any way.

I loved you silently, without hope, fully,
In diffidence, in jealousy, in pain;
I loved you so tenderly and truly,
As let you else be loved by any man.
I loved you because of your smooth thighs
They put my heart on fire like amber in gasoline)

I will leave the bronze statue of Alexander Pushkin in Moscow
For Lenin to look at, he will assign Mayakovski to guard it
Day and night as he sings for it the cacotopian
Poems of a slap in the face of public taste;

(I know the power of words, I know words' tocsin.
They're not the kind applauded by the boxes.
From words like these coffins burst from the earth
and on their own four oaken legs stride forth.
It happens they reject you, unpublished, unprinted.
But saddle-girths tightening words gallop ahead.
See how the centuries ring and trains crawl
to lick poetry's calloused hands.
I know the power of words. Seeming trifles that fall
like petals beneath the heel-taps of dance.
But man with his soul, his lips, his bones.)

I will come along to African city of Omurate
With the pedagogue of the thespic poet
The teacher of the poets, the teacher who taught
Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin; I know his name
The name is Nikolai Vasileyvitch Gogol
I will caution him to carry only two books
From which he will teach the re-Africanized Pushkin
The first book is the Cloak and second book will be
The voluminous dead souls that have two sharp children of Russian dystopia;
The cactopia of Nosdrezv in his sadistic cult of betrayal
And utopia of Chichikov in his paranoid ownership of dead souls
Of the Russian peasants, muzhiks and serfs,
I will caution him not to carry the government inspector incognito
We don’t want the inspector general in the African city of Omurate
He will leave it behind for Lenin to read because he needs to know
What is to be done.
I don’t like the extreme badness of owning the dead souls
Let me run away to the city of Paris, where romance and poetry
Are utopian commanders of the dystopian orchestra
In which Victor Marie Hugo is haunted by
The ghost of Jean Val Jean; Le Miserable,
I will implore Hugo to take me to the Corsican Island
And chant for me one **** song of the French revolution;


       (  take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great; he hath in him God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights alive in the blue sky.
  
In our light bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And his forgiveness in their smile.
  
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry Paradise
Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
  
The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,
  
When God seeks out these tender things
Whom in the shadow where we sleep
He sends us clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that we)

 From the Corsican I won’t go back to Paris
Because Napoleon Bonaparte and the proletariat
Has already taken over the municipal of Paris
I will dodge this city and maneuver my ways
Through Alsace and Lorraine
The Miginko islands of Europe
And cross the boundaries in to bundeslander
Into Germany, I will go to Berlin and beg the Gestapo
The State police not to shoot me as I climb the Berlin wall
I will balance dramatically on the top of Berlin wall
Like Eshu the Nigerian god of fate
With East Germany on my right; Die ossie
And West Germany on my left; Die wessie
Then like Jesus balancing and walking
On the waters of Lake Galilee
I will balance on Berlin wall
And call one of my faithful followers from Germany
The strong hearted Friedrich von Schiller
To climb the Berlin wall with me
So that we can sing his dystopic Cassandra as a duet
We shall sing and balance on the wall of Berlin
Schiller’s beauteous song of Cassandra;

(Mirth the halls of Troy was filling,
Ere its lofty ramparts fell;
From the golden lute so thrilling
Hymns of joy were heard to swell.
From the sad and tearful slaughter
All had laid their arms aside,
For Pelides Priam's daughter
Claimed then as his own fair bride.

Laurel branches with them bearing,
Troop on troop in bright array
To the temples were repairing,
Owning Thymbrius' sovereign sway.
Through the streets, with frantic measure,
Danced the bacchanal mad round,
And, amid the radiant pleasure,
Only one sad breast was found.

Joyless in the midst of gladness,
None to heed her, none to love,
Roamed Cassandra, plunged in sadness,
To Apollo's laurel grove.
To its dark and deep recesses
Swift the sorrowing priestess hied,
And from off her flowing tresses
Tore the sacred band, and cried:

"All around with joy is beaming,
Ev'ry heart is happy now,
And my sire is fondly dreaming,
Wreathed with flowers my sister's brow
I alone am doomed to wailing,
That sweet vision flies from me;
In my mind, these walls assailing,
Fierce destruction I can see."

"Though a torch I see all-glowing,
Yet 'tis not in *****'s hand;
Smoke across the skies is blowing,
Yet 'tis from no votive brand.
Yonder see I feasts entrancing,
But in my prophetic soul,
Hear I now the God advancing,
Who will steep in tears the bowl!"

"And they blame my lamentation,
And they laugh my grief to scorn;
To the haunts of desolation
I must bear my woes forlorn.
All who happy are, now shun me,
And my tears with laughter see;
Heavy lies thy hand upon me,
Cruel Pythian deity!"

"Thy divine decrees foretelling,
Wherefore hast thou thrown me here,
Where the ever-blind are dwelling,
With a mind, alas, too clear?
Wherefore hast thou power thus given,
What must needs occur to know?
Wrought must be the will of Heaven--
Onward come the hour of woe!"

"When impending fate strikes terror,
Why remove the covering?
Life we have alone in error,
Knowledge with it death must bring.
Take away this prescience tearful,
Take this sight of woe from me;
Of thy truths, alas! how fearful
'Tis the mouthpiece frail to be!"

"Veil my mind once more in slumbers
Let me heedlessly rejoice;
Never have I sung glad numbers
Since I've been thy chosen voice.
Knowledge of the future giving,
Thou hast stolen the present day,
Stolen the moment's joyous living,--
Take thy false gift, then, away!"

"Ne'er with bridal train around me,
Have I wreathed my radiant brow,
Since to serve thy fane I bound me--
Bound me with a solemn vow.
Evermore in grief I languish--
All my youth in tears was spent;
And with thoughts of bitter anguish
My too-feeling heart is rent."

"Joyously my friends are playing,
All around are blest and glad,
In the paths of pleasure straying,--
My poor heart alone is sad.
Spring in vain unfolds each treasure,
Filling all the earth with bliss;
Who in life can e'er take pleasure,
When is seen its dark abyss?"

"With her heart in vision burning,
Truly blest is Polyxene,
As a bride to clasp him yearning.
Him, the noblest, best Hellene!
And her breast with rapture swelling,
All its bliss can scarcely know;
E'en the Gods in heavenly dwelling
Envying not, when dreaming so."

"He to whom my heart is plighted
Stood before my ravished eye,
And his look, by passion lighted,
Toward me turned imploringly.
With the loved one, oh, how gladly
Homeward would I take my flight
But a Stygian shadow sadly
Steps between us every night."

"Cruel Proserpine is sending
All her spectres pale to me;
Ever on my steps attending
Those dread shadowy forms I see.
Though I seek, in mirth and laughter
Refuge from that ghastly train,
Still I see them hastening after,--
Ne'er shall I know joy again."

"And I see the death-steel glancing,
And the eye of ****** glare;
On, with hasty strides advancing,
Terror haunts me everywhere.
Vain I seek alleviation;--
Knowing, seeing, suffering all,
I must wait the consummation,
In a foreign land must fall."

While her solemn words are ringing,
Hark! a dull and wailing tone
From the temple's gate upspringing,--
Dead lies Thetis' mighty son!
Eris shakes her snake-locks hated,
Swiftly flies each deity,
And o'er Ilion's walls ill-fated
Thunder-clouds loom heavily!)

When the Gestapoes get impatient
We shall not climb down to walk on earth
Because by this time  of utopia
Thespis and Muse the gods of poetry
Would have given us the wings to fly
To fly high over England, I and schiller
We shall not land any where in London
Nor perch to any of the English tree
Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Thales
We shall not land there in these lands
The waters of river Thames we shall not drink
We shall fly higher over England
The queen of England we shall not commune
For she is my lender; has lend me the language
English language in which I am chanting
My dystopic songs, poor me! What a cacotopia!
If she takes her language away from
I will remain poetically dead
In the Universe of art and culture
I will form a huge palimpsest of African poetry
Friedrich son of schiller please understand me
Let us not land in England lest I loose
My borrowed tools of worker back to the owner,
But instead let us fly higher in to the azure
The zenith of the sky where the eagles never dare
And call the English bard
through  our high shrilled eagle’s contralto
William Shakespeare to come up
In the English sky; to our treat of poetic blitzkrieg
Please dear schiller we shall tell the bard of London
To come up with his three Luftwaffe
These will be; the deer he stole from the rich farmer
Once when he was a lad in the rural house of john the father,
Second in order is the Hamlet the price of Denmark
Thirdly is  his beautiful song of the **** of lucrece,
We shall ask the bard to return back the deer to the owner
Three of ourselves shall enjoy together dystopia in Hamlet
And ask Shakespeare to sing for us his song
In which he saw a man **** Lucrece; the **** of Lucrece;

( From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
  And girdle with embracing flames the waist
  Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of chaste unhapp'ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
  Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
  With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
  That kings might be espoused to more fame,
  But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.

O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And, if possess'd, as soon decay'd and done
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expir'd date, cancell'd ere well begun:
  Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
  Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.

Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
  Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
  From thievish ears, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
  His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
  That golden hap which their superiors want)

  
I and Schiller we shall be the audience
When Shakespeare will echo
The enemies of beauty as
It is weakly protected in the arms of Othello.

I and Schiller we don’t know places in Greece
But Shakespeare’s mother comes from Greece
And Shakespeare’s wife comes from Athens
Shakespeare thus knows Greece like Pericles,
We shall not land anywhere on the way
But straight we shall be let
By Shakespeare to Greece
Into the inner chamber of calypso
Lest the Cyclopes eat us whole meal
We want to redeem Homer from the
Love detention camp of calypso
Where he has dallied nine years in the wilderness
Wilderness of love without reaching home
I will ask Homer to introduce me
To Muse, Clio and Thespis
The three spiritualities of poetry
That gave Homer powers to graft the epics
Of Iliad and Odyssey centerpieces of Greece dystopia
I will ask Homer to chant and sing for us the epical
Songs of love, Grecian cradle of utopia
Where Cyclopes thrive on heavyweight cacotopia
Please dear Homer kindly sing for us;
(Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
feasted our fill on meat and drink, but when the sun went down and
it came on dark, we camped upon the beach. When the child of
morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I bade my men on board and
loose the hawsers. Then they took their places and smote the grey
sea with their oars; so we sailed on with sorrow in our hearts, but
glad to have escaped death though we had lost our comrades)
                                  
From Greece to Africa the short route  is via India
The sub continent of India where humanity
Flocks like the oceans of women and men
The land in which Romesh Tulsi
Grafted Ramayana and Mahabharata
The handbook of slavery and caste prejudice
The land in which Gujarat Indian tongue
In the cheeks of Rabidranathe Tagore
Was awarded a Poetical honour
By Alfred Nobel minus any Nemesis
From the land of Scandinavia,
I will implore Tagore to sing for me
The poem which made Nobel to give him a prize
I will ask Tagore to sing in English
The cacotopia and utopia that made India
An oversized dystopia that man has ever seen,
Tagore sing please Tagore sing for me your beggarly heat;

(When the heart is hard and parched up,
come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life,
come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from
beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner,
break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one,
thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder)



The heart of beggar must be
A hard heart for it to glorify in the art of begging,

I don’t like begging
This is knot my heart suffered
From my childhood experience
I saw my mother
Chelsea Jean Jul 2016
Let’s talk about what happened while you were watching Syria turn to dust.  
The mango tree in the yard burst into life.  
Our front lawn was a splash of yellow for weeks.  
Local children bit into the flesh, juice spilling down their chins and staining their tunics.  
The sun set over the ***** rooftops that night, and the next.  
You stopped sleeping.  
In the next room you drew maps instead, studied the political borders.  
You’re trying to find a place where cities don’t disappear.  
The morning after the bombs finally hit Aleppo, after the shrapnel pierced through the night,
you woke at dawn and watered the mango tree.  
When the children came running, they found the gate locked.  
The stench of rotten mangoes filled the house for weeks.

There are countries in this world that I can’t look at straight on.  
There are too many faces, too many hands that look like my own.  
You are not afraid to stare into the face of oppression.  
To be the revolution.  
You give yourself as sacrifice;
the nest of charcoal hair resting above your eyes,
calloused brown hands from years of hard labour.  
The softness of your skin when you finally collapse into our bed,
after fighting for so long.  
Gunfire crackles through the humid air as our legs tangle.

The trauma of your mother and sisters sits inside of you.  
The memory of your brothers, playing at the outskirts of the city.  
The soles of their small feet stained black from the dirt.  
Their silhouettes, bent in prayer.  Childhood laughter silenced.  
You give the grief a face.  Let the name roll over your tongue.  

Our home no longer a home.  
The sun-bleached walls and rosewater baths gone.  
Candles kept the rooms warm during the power cuts.  
The sound of gunfire over the hills greeting us in the mornings.  
Still, we rose and spoke with God.  
Asking for just one more day.  
That the taste of mango will once more grace our mouths.  

Let’s talk about what happens now, while the ashes of our country still smoke on the horizon.  
Now, there is a face, a pair of hands just like ours growing inside of me.  
My mother brings us food and fresh flowers, tells me that it is the size of a mango.  
At night, you leave your maps and lay beside me.  
Each breath you take carries the weight of a country.  
The revolution inside of you has quieted.  
No more gunfire, just a steel resolve.  
In the mornings, you water the mango tree, watch the tanks in the distance.  
We eat dates with our fingers,
spitting the pits on the ground while we
talk about the dust surrounding us.
On Syria and love.
Antino Art Apr 2018
We wear this city on our feet
Planting our roots with each step
Our shadows

cast shapes of ancient oak trees stretching out over Nash Square at daybreak
We grow here

with the spirit of buildings past,
present and rising like a staircase to heaven in the distance,
the plumes of white smoke from their rooftops as burnt offerings for incense,
spires for steeples,
the bundled masses of people moving beneath as the calloused soles
of our feet pounding the pavement,
Our congregation

seated in reverant silence on the R-Line hissing to a stop
Their hushed prayers filing out from within to bring the reclaimed sidewalks of Fayetville Street back to life to join this pilgramage
They march

downtown toward Capitol
holding signs for disarmament
They bar-hop through Glenwood toasting to deliverance
They sprint toward their cars on work week mornings in a blur of faces that become us,
Rush at all hours through our veins
Cross our hearts and keep us breathing
On the shoulders of this giant collective, we hold our heads high

to see that this is home now.
We cross into the unfamiliar
at the walk signal's cue,
breaking new ground, gazes meeting one another
as their counter-culture
coffee kicks in
to add this defiant bounce to each step
this rhythm to hop over puddles as they appear

We don't mind the way rain lands here
and its baptismal effect
We like how its capable of reinventing itself mid-fall into weightless snowflakes, then taking flight
We walk without umbrellas to see it

wearing the greyest pieces of their winter sky the way it caps the peaks of Mount PNC, BB&T and Wells Fargo like hoodies over our heads
We assume monk-like appearances
in robes color-coded by season- from blue collar sweaters to cold hard sweat
We'll wear their city until we're worn out and wet, mumbling last-mimute prayers for our salvation under our breath
We'll wear their dreams

at night, the moment the streetlights flicker on beneath wired telephone poles carrying conversations about each one as far south as Florida, fears unspoken, made visible
on iron park benches too cold to sit on at this hour
We'll keep walking

and wear this city like backpacks over our shoulders

under the shadow of their heavens,
the skyline
a glowing testament
of every step taken
toward someplace higher.
bees Jan 2017
I have been thinking about you since we have met
Intimidated by your beauty at that time
I was blushing red
A victim of your charming smile
How embarrassing really

Your beauty, in this world, is comparable to the brightness of the Sun, at night to the brightness of the Moon
In mythology, you are like the Phoenix, an eternal beauty, one and only

I have not seen you nor dreamt of you, but you are always in my mind

They say the men who accumulated great fortunes and success were motivated by the influence of a woman
I am motivated by the influence of you

When the time comes and if that time comes, I will properly introduce myself
Then, maybe I could stroke your beautiful long black hair with my calloused hands

Cchi siti d'acqua idda E ju siti d'amuri
*What she thirsts for water I thirst for love
5am thoughts.
Le Beast Jan 2014
Calloused. But aware.
I compensate to operate
The harsh realities roll right off
Bouncing onto a less affected life
Sloughing off the excess
So I may continue this journey
Unscathed by what I see and hear
Tasting grey is all that's left
Memories swirl in but are faded
Like newspaper behind glass
I touch but can't feel
I cry, but I shed no tears
I am dried out like a well
Parched but not thirsty
Alone to take it all in
To share with no one
Calloused. But aware.
Rebecca Wolohan Jun 2015
His hands are long,
calloused and inviting.
Scars tell stories,
scattered
across his knuckles.

He has one hand cradled in the other,
tapping and rubbing
his palm
with his fingers.

His mind is a jungle:
heavy, sticky, lush,
challenging to navigate,
surrounded by undecayed green
and unobstructed sea.

“Are you anxious?”
His hands are moving rapidly,
yellow parrotbills
flitting in and out of the tall tree trunks
and violet, epiphytic orchids of his mind.

Turning to face me,
he stretches his lips into a smile.
He assures me that he is fine,
but he doesn’t see any birds.
Shane Carmichael Mar 2012
I feel your silky hair through my rough, calloused hands
Your flawless skin softens this hardened heart
Melting away into your arms
Gentle scratches across my bare back remind me,
That I am far from alone in this cold world
I crave this beautiful touch, not between lovers
A reassuring brush of the shoulder and a deserving look
Eyes that sparkle like a priceless gem
A wise, bullied soul with a sharp wit to match
The voice that strikes fear into me, as a conscious into a person
My love, do not mistake this weary traveler for an idiot
ryn Jul 2015
I am but willing prey to the wiles of the full grown moon.
She guards the night sky...
While I patrol these grounds...
Grieving over the seconds that have gone too soon.

I am a vessel... all emptied and barren.
what once was full,
now echoes faint
the glories of yesteryears.
Afloat still, adrift upon the currents... aimless and sullen.

I am a ghost... haunting no one but my own.
Immortalised...
Anchored...
to a body of mist and haze...
Occupying this space where worthy wind had once blown...

I am a beggar offering nothing but my open palms.
Hope etched tight
into my knackered knuckles
and calloused digits.
Please... take them in yours...
soothe them...
grant me your touch, your coveted balm.
Tryst Jul 2014
Seeing her frail wings

In his calloused hands

        He had

                To let

                        Her go
Mellow Ds Jun 2011
Staring into stars, the lonely people drink their tears
And genuflect to empty car parks and swallow their fears
Like Ernest Hemingway, they grit their teeth and laugh
******* a pocket bullet, contemplating aftermath
And the shadows bend and grow…
And the embers shine below.

Geared for success, the lonely boy begins to starve
His chest heaving from stress, his wish for waterfall in cars
Freeways self-entitled, forcing ants into the gutter
While a lonely father cries and the boy freezes and sputters
And the doorway opens up
As the mouth is finally shut.

“I’m not mad, son, you’ve only disappointed me”
Father, point the way for me, where is my life leading?!
Should I sacrifice my happiness for a chance at succeeding?
Should these calloused hands be empty, do I need a beating?

You need to straighten up your tie and keep your noses clean.
My mother’s eyes in moonlight silently judging me
Inhumanity, why don’t you rule these streets?
I bite my bottom lip and gaze down at my feet
Lumped chunk of nicotine
Pushing itself out of me.

I want to stop blending rainwater with my leaking eye-sockets,
Crying for another with which to share my gold locket,
Tossing and turning, wondering where I will be next
And for God’s sake, can I do it, am I trying my very best!?

Why can’t I get up on time like every normal human being?
Why do I always get sick, why do my guts hate me?
Why are all my joints always crackling and aching?
I never want to live, don’t ever try to save me!

“I’m not mad, son, you’ve only disappointed me”
Father, point the way for me, where is my life leading?!
Should I sacrifice my happiness for a chance at succeeding?
Should these calloused hands be empty, do I need a beating?

Staring into stars, the lonely people sit and smile
Counting all the faces staring back, retracing miles
Celestial serenity, striving for an energy
Never needing inquiry, embracing the no thing!

Should these calloused hands be empty?
Do I need a beating?
Will these pruning hands deceive me?
This Universe is in me.
Jordan Rowan Dec 2015
I'm tired of taking off my own belt
I'm tired of feeling what I've felt
I'm tired of giving up so easy
I'm tired of no one trying to see me
I'm tired of complaining and whining
I'm tired of the wanting and pining
I'm tired of sleeping all alone
I'm tired of staying at home
I'm tired of listening my thoughts
I'm tired of everything I've got
I'm tired of staring on the mirror
I'm tired of trying to wipe it clear
I'm tired of silent, early mornings
I'm tired of romantically mourning
I'm tired of my ever-drying lips
I'm tired of my calloused fingertips
I'm tired of listening to happy people
I'm tired of being frail and feeble
I'm tired of being alone
I'm tired of being alone
Ady Apr 2014
Life is my current lover.
I swig her ephemeral taste from my cupped hands
worried as the golden, shimmering liquid rushes through
creases and cracks in my jaded hands.
Her mood varies through my stages;
at times she is of doting temper and roseate kisses
but when love evades her, most often than not,
her calloused hands damage the pearly flesh in tender
places,
and discontent paints a surly mood as she digs her crimson
brush against the canvas of my self.
Life is my inconsistent lover,
sometimes doting but most often than not abusive.
So I vowed my eternal devotion to Death.
We escape under the dark canopy of starless wings;
a tryst.
I eat of the forbidden feasts in the Kingdom of Hades,
grains of scarlet pomegranates staining my chapped lips.
Death has promised me perpetuity.
But until Life decides to release me from her capricious temper,
I shall long for the wintry, rainy comfort of my drowsy affair.
Ryan Bowdish Jun 2011
Staring into stars, the lonely people drink their tears
And genuflect to empty car parks and swallow their fears
Like Ernest Hemingway, they grit their teeth and laugh
******* a pocket bullet, contemplating aftermath
And the shadows bend and grow…
And the embers shine below.

Geared for success, the lonely boy begins to starve
His chest heaving from stress, his wish for waterfall in cars
Freeways self-entitled, forcing ants into the gutter
While a lonely father cries and the boy freezes and sputters
And the doorway opens up
As the mouth is finally shut.

“I’m not mad, son, you’ve only disappointed me”
Father, point the way for me, where is my life leading?!
Should I sacrifice my happiness for a chance at succeeding?
Should these calloused hands be empty, do I need a beating?

You need to straighten up your tie and keep your noses clean.
My mother’s eyes in moonlight silently judging me
Inhumanity, why don’t you rule these streets?
I bite my bottom lip and gaze down at my feet
Lumped chunk of nicotine
Pushing itself out of me.

I want to stop blending rainwater with my leaking eye-sockets,
Crying for another with which to share my gold locket,
Tossing and turning, wondering where I will be next
And for God’s sake, can I do it, am I trying my very best!?

Why can’t I get up on time like every normal human being?
Why do I always get sick, why do my guts hate me?
Why are all my joints always crackling and aching?
I never want to live, don’t ever try to save me!

“I’m not mad, son, you’ve only disappointed me”
Father, point the way for me, where is my life leading?!
Should I sacrifice my happiness for a chance at succeeding?
Should these calloused hands be empty, do I need a beating?

Staring into stars, the lonely people sit and smile
Counting all the faces staring back, retracing miles
Celestial serenity, striving for an energy
Never needing inquiry, embracing the no thing!

Should these calloused hands be empty?
Do I need a beating?
Will these pruning hands deceive me?
This Universe is in me.
Title thanks to Yoni Wolf, inspiration from Why's "This Blackest Purse"

ALSO, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT THIS POEM IS ALSO APART OF MY "MELLOW D'S" COLLECTION. THERE IS NO PLAGIARIZING HAPPENING, JUST TWO SEPARATE ACCOUNTS FOR THE SAME ARTIST. -Ryan Bowdish
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
so i get this idea sometimes
that you enjoy being coy
when it comes to me
to conjure momentary spectacle
& make me wonder
if you paint catharsis
on the doors of a home
you've never lived in
as a memory of our first night together
because i do, i remember you
beaming white on blue
speaking softer than any storm
i ever knew, i often think that maybe
you live that night in your mind
when your pillow is cold
& you can't sleep, it makes me wonder
if you do as i do, and rewrite three years fictionally beginning with a kiss somewhere
maybe a balcony or a quiet car
on the sand or in a sunlit grove close to your home but always a familiar scar on the maps we know we know by heart
i wonder if sometimes
the idea of me loving you is too real
and if it teems under your tongue
to stay observant but distantly intrigued
if by this distance you think it safe
to get a dog and pass time
on the couch with a journal & some wine
what i really wanna know is if your fingernails ever wish to have my skin under them
or if they would boast
about winning a war with my headboard
i wonder if you can imagine me
meeting your parents in your apartment & shaking your fathers hand
as a first of many calloused palm readings
and if you know that i trembled before them
how insignificant i had felt
to not know their daughter
in the way i had envisioned
how i picture such poignant moments
so tangibly sharp that sometimes
i replace  my memories with little stories
i tell myself that i can't count on two hands
the number of times i've seen you
& that i don't feel like a crater
when i recollect our collisions
i want to know if you still find madness
in the words that have always been about you
i wanna know if your imagination of me
looks more like an anniversary or an obituary
tread May 2013
Eyes like massive clanks- gazes morphed to lanced boils, lungs ache and the tumour of hopeless alien weird melts an old painting we used to call 'existence.'

Ankles dry, calloused thoughts, skin peels to reveal oozing flesh. **** sinks in and swallows floating zinc; immune. Consuming ex-cadavers in mall parking lots and pushing the crippled in shopping carts, an ankle twisted, a mother swallowed monetary *****, the stock market became the shelf market, and creation wondered if we were okay with frozen pizza for dinner.

Life dragged on and on, the world swirled on twitter feeds and Facebook statuses, the streets completed laps around our better judgements and our better lives, we sank to scheduled escapism and believed that one day we would find the light despite our never left-look.

Massive intention swelled to disjointed shark search. A witch-hunt to burn unhappiness in it's own angry passion. Bones; cost efficient at the least and designed in the weirdness of erosion-return. Miniature intention swelled to grabs solidarity. A manhunt to freeze stillness in it's own endless silence.

What complete? What shatter-tastic ******?

Eyes like massive clanks- gazes morphed to lanced boils, lungs ache and the tumour of hopeless alien weird melts an old painting we used to call 'existence.'
Ivy Swolf Jan 2015
I've been stung by a wasp on the same part of my heart
so many times that this familiar
disappointment shouldn't hurt anymore.
Gardeners develop callouses on their hands
because nurturing others to life with love
is the hardest thing they will ever do.
I can show you the rough patch of tissue
and muscle, right on the epicardium; I've cut myself open
time and again for others to peer inside, that it has
become automatic, synchronized with each beat
and thump. I don't know how to become close
to people without bleeding for them, but none
yet have been able to withstand the sight of
a brilliant crimson geyser showering
from my chest. If day after day I continue getting stung,
suffering like Prometheus when the eagle tore at his liver,
I know that I'll get rescued like him, too. Only I won't
be looking out for Heracles and a centaur- just a person
with open, calloused hands.
Two poems tonight... as always, critique is very welcome.. xIvy
Maaz Dec 2018
Stand on graves and cast out the helpless.
They arrive in waves to the illusion of hope.
A 'caravan' of people,
All begging for freedom,
But fear not,
They shall be murdered
for they are evil.

How can they expect asylum, safety & security,
from a land built on death?
Where those in power face no scrutiny.
Where an orange haired buffoon can thrive & prosper,
But mothers & fathers cannot afford a doctor.

Yet still these people come here seeking a better life and
how dare they do?
With hands calloused from hard work,
hearts filled with grief,
spirits filled with belief;
Don’t they know?

This is a land built out of the flesh of martyrs,
On a charter that helps oppress its own population,
A country that thrives off devastation.
A sociopathic society
Raven Sep 2014
I touched the edge of your fingers, feeling the rough calluses against your skin
Play me a tune by Muse between the strings of your guitar
Light me a smoke and I could return the favor with a gentle kiss
As the moon got brighter and the sky got darker the kisses were rough like the calluses on your finger tips
We stayed up listening to every band made possible
32,000 songs barely made it through fifty before we left each other breathless and fulfilled as are fingers slid past one another leaving the last touch on your calloused guitar finger tips...
illueminate Jun 2016
i am a web wove between
a man with calloused hands
and a woman with calloused thoughts,

he worked for a life that he lives
but it's different than what he sought
and she is there in both,

three female webs wove
into fearing commitment
because love isn't slamming doors,

(love can't be slamming doors)

he listens for her and acts on it
and she listens for her and acts on it
and the webs are shredding,

there is a roof and four walls
that are decorated for holidays
by calloused hands and calloused thoughts.
for (or maybe just about) my parents.
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
I followed Delvos down the trail until we could see the mouth of the mine. The life and energy of the surrounding birches and sentential pines came to a still and then died as we left the trees shelter behind and walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelled of mold and moths. Delvos stepped into the darkness anyways.
“Well, girl, you coming or aren’t you?”
I could see his yellowed tobacco teeth form into a smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped in its cage.
“This tunnel is just the mouth to over two hundred others exactly like it. Stay close. Last thing I need this month is National Geographic on my *** for losing one of their puppet girls.”
“Delvos, ****. I have two masters degrees.” I pulled my mousey hair up into a tight ponytail. “I’ve experienced far more fatal feats than following a canary in a cave.”
He rolled his eyes. “Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling some Louis Armstrong song.
“I survived alone in the jungles of Bolivia alone for two months chasing an Azara’s Spinetail. I climbed the tallest mountain in Nepal shooting Satyr Tragopans along the cliff faces. In Peru I…” Suddenly I felt the weight of the darkness. I lost track of his lantern completely. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I had done in Peru. The mine was quiet and cold. I wiped my clammy, calloused hands on my trail pants and took a depth breath.

In through the nose. Out through the mouth. This is nothing. I followed a Diurnal Peruvian Pygmy-Owl across the gravel tops of the Andes Mountains, no light but the Southern Cross and waning moon above. I am not scared of darkness. I am not scared of darkness.
I stopped to listen. Behind me I could hear the wind cooing at the mouth of the mine.
Taunting? No. Reminding me to go forward. Into the darkness.
I shifted my Nikon camera off my shoulder and raised the viewfinder to my eyes, sliding the lens cap into my vest pocket. This routine motion, by now, had become as fluid as walking. I stared readily through the dark black square until I saw reflections from the little red light on top that blinked, telling me the flash was charged. I snapped my finger down and white light filled the void in front of me. Then heavy dark returned. I blinked my eyes attempting to rid the memories of the flash etched, red, onto my retina. I clicked my short fingernails through buttons until the photo I took filled the camera screen. I learned early on that having short fingernails meant more precise control with the camera buttons. I zoomed in on the picture and scrolled to get my bearings of exactly what lay ahead in the narrow mine passageway. As I scrolled to the right I saw Delvos’ boot poking around the tunnel that forked to the left.
Gottcha.
I packed up the camera, licked my drying lips, and stepped confidently into the darkness.

When I first got the assignment in Vermont I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Mining canaries? Never had I ever ‘chased’ a more mundane bird. Nonetheless, when Jack Reynolds sends you on a shoot you don’t say no, so I packed up my camera bag and hoped on the next plane out of Washington.
“His name is John Delvos.” Jack had said as he handed me the manila case envelope. He smiled, “You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Yes sir.”
“Don’t look so smug, Lila. This may not be the most exotic bird you’ve shot but the humanity of this piece has the potential to be a cover story. Get the shots, write the story.”
I opened the envelope and read the assignment details in the comfort of my old pajamas back at my apartment later that night.
John Delvos has lived in rural Vermont his entire life. His family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When “the accident” happened the whole town shut down and the mines never reopened. . There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly before Delvos and his father retreated into the Vermont woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He currently ships them to other mining towns across the country. The question of the inhumanity of breeding canaries for the sole purpose of dying in the mines so humans don’t has always been controversial. Find out Delvos’ story and opinions on the matter. Good luck, Lila.
I sighed, accepting my dull assignment and slipped into an apathetic sleep.


After stumbling through the passageway while keeping one hand on the wall to the left, I found the tunnel the picture had revealed Delvos to be luring in. Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me
“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers?” He relit the oily lantern and picked back up the canary cage. “Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.”. He turned his back without another word. I followed deeper into the damp darkness.
“Why were there no canaries in the mine on, you know, that day?” The shadows of the lantern flickered against the iron canary cage chained on his hip and the yellow bird hopped inside.
“I was nine, Ms. Rivers. I didn’t understand much at the time.” We turned right into the next tunnel and our shoes crunched on jagged stones. All the stones were black.
“But surely you understand now?”
The canary chirped.

When I first got to Sheldon and began asking about the location of the Delvos’ cabin you would have thought I was asking where the first gate to hell was located. Mothers would smile and say, “Sorry, Miss, I can’t say,” then hurriedly flock their children in the opposite direction. After two hours of polite refusals I gave up. I spent the rest of the first day photographing the town square. It was quaint; old stone barbershops surrounded by oaks and black squirrels, a western-themed whiskey bar, and a few greasy spoon restaurants. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good night’s sleep and defeat this town’s fear of John Delvos the following day.
My room was a tiny one bed square with no TV. Surprise, surprise. At least I had my camera and computer to entertain myself. I reached into the side of my camera bag, pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC, and stepped out onto the dirt in front of my motel door and lit up. The stars above stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except its sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of Vermont night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the star’s dancing became.
“Ma’am? Everything okay?”
Startled, I dropped my cigarette on the ground and the ember fell off. “I’m sorry, sir. I was just, um, the stars…” I snuffed out the orange glow in the dirt with my boot and extended my hand, “Lila Rivers, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Rivers. Are you new to town?” He traced his fingers over a thick, graying mustache as he stared at me.
“I’m here for work. I’m a bird photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I’m looking for John Delvos but I’m starting to think he’s going to be harder to track than a Magpie Robin.”
Ian smiled awkwardly, shivered, then began to fumble with his thick jacket’s zipper. I looked up at the night sky and watched the stars as they tiptoed their tiny circles in the pregnant silence. Then, they dimmed in the flick of a spark as Ian lit up his wooden pipe. It was a light-colored wood, stained with rich brown tobacco and ash. He passed me his matches, smiling.
“So, Delvos, eh?” He puffed out a cloud of leather smelling smoke toward the stars. “What do you want with that old *******? Don’t tell me National Geographic is interested in the Delvos canaries.”
I lit up another stick and took a drag. “Shocking, right?”
“Actually, it’s about time their story is told.” Benet walked to the wooden bench to our left and patted the seat beside him. I walked over. “The Delvos canaries saved hundreds of Sheldonian lives over the years. But the day a crew went into the mines without one, my father came out of the ground as cold as when we put him back into it in his coffin.”
I sat in silence, unsure what to say. “Mr. Benet, I’m so sorry…”
“Please, just Ian. My father was the last Mr. Benet.”
We sat on the wooden bench, heat leaving our bodies to warm the dead wood beneath our legs. I shivered; the star’s dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Rivers. This whole town indebted to those tiny yellow birds, but nobody cares to remember that anymore.”
“Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Delvos and his, erm, martyrs?” The ember of my second cigarette was close to my pinching fingertips.
“Follow me.” Ian stood up and walked to the edge of the woods in front of us. We crunched the dead pine needles beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed. “See that yellow notch?” he asked. Sure enough, there was a notch cut and dyed yellow at his finger’s end. “If you follow true north from this tree into the woods you’ll find this notch about every fifty yards or so. Follow the yellow and it’ll spit you out onto the Delvos property.”
“Thank you, Ian. I really can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am.
“You don’t have to.” He knocked the ash out of his pipe against the tree. “Just do those birds justice in your article. Remember, martyrs. Tell old Delvos Ian Benet sends his regards.” He turned and walked back to the motel and I stood and watched in silence. It was then I realized I hadn’t heard a single bird since I got to Sheldon. The star’s dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary’s wings and Delvos stopped. “This is a good place to break our fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We had left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky that morning and had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. I was definitely ready to eat. He handed me a gallon Ziploc bag from his backpack filled with raisins, nuts, various dried fruits, and a stiff piece of bread. I attacked the food like a raven.
“I was the reason no canaries entered the mines that day, Ms. Rivers.”
Delvos broke a piece of his bread off and wrapped it around a dried piece of apricot, or maybe apple. I was suddenly aware of my every motion and swallowed, loudly. I crinkled into my Ziploc and crunched on the pecans I dug out, waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“I’m not a parrot, Mr. Delvos, I don’t answer expectedly on command. You’ll tell me if you want.” I stuffed a fistful of dried pears into my mouth.
Delvos chuckled and my nerves eased. “You’ve got steel in you, Ms. Rivers. I’ll give you that much.”
I nodded and continued cramming pears in my mouth.
“I was only nine. The canaries were my pets, all of them. I hated when Dad would send them into the mines to die for men I couldn’t give two ***** about. It was my birthday and I asked for an afternoon of freedom with my pets and Dad obliged. I was in the aviary with pocketfuls of sunflower-seeds. Whenever I threw a handful into the air above me, the air came to life with wings slashing yellow brushes and cawing songs of joy. It was the happiest I have ever been, wholly surrounded and protected by my friends. Around twelve thirty that afternoon the Sheriff pulled up, lights ablaze. The blue and red lights stilled my yellow sky to green again and that’s when I heard the shouting. He cuffed my Dad on the hood of the car and Mom was crying and pushing her fists into the sheriff’s chest. I didn’t understand at all. The Sheriff ended up putting Mom in the car too and they all left me in the aviary. I sat there until around four that afternoon before they sent anyone to come get me.”
Delvos took a small bite of his bread and chewed a moment. “No matter how many handfuls of seeds I threw in the air after that, the birds wouldn’t stir. They wouldn’t even sing. I think they knew what was happening.”
I was at a loss for words so and I blurted, “I didn’t see an aviary at your house…”
Delvos laughed. “Someone burnt down the house I was raised in the next week while we were sleeping. Mom died that night. The whole dark was burning with screams and my yellow canaries were orange and hot against the black sky. That’s the only night I’ve seen black canaries and the only night I’ve heard them scream.”
I swallowed some mixed nuts and they rubbed against my dry throat.
“They never caught the person. A week later Dad took the remainder of the birds and we marched into the woods. We worked for months clearing the land and rebuilding our lives. We spent most of the time in silence, except for the canary cries. When the house was finally built and the bird’s little coops were as well, Dad finally talked. The only thing he could say was “Canaries are not the same as a Phoenix, John. Not the same at all.”
We sat in silence and I found myself watching the canary flit about in its cage, still only visible by the lanterns flame. Not fully yellow, I realized, here in the mines but not fully orange either.

When I first walked onto John Delvos’ property on Thursday morning he was scattering feed into the bird coops in the front of his cabin. Everything was made of wood and still wet with the morning’s dew.
“Mr. Delvos?”
He spun around, startled, and walked up to me a little too fast. “Why are you here? Who are you?”
“My name is Lila Rivers, sir, I am a photographer and journalist for National Geographic Magazine and we are going to run an article on your canaries.”
“Not interested.”
“Please, sir, can I ask you just a few quick questions as take a couple pictures of your, erm, martyrs?”
His eyes narrowed and he walked up to me, studying my face with an intense, glowering gaze. He spit a mouthful of dip onto the ground without breaking eye contact. I shifted my camera bag’s weight to the other shoulder.
“Who told you to call them that?”
“I met Ian Benet last night, he told me how important your birds are to this community, sir. He sends his regards.”
Delvos laughed and motioned for me to follow as he turned his back. “You can take pictures but I have to approve which ones you publish. That’s my rule.”
“Sir, it’s really not up to me, you see, my boss, Jack Reynolds, is one of the editors for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Rivers.” He turned and picked back up the bucket of seed and began to walk back to the birds. “You want to interview me then we do it in the mine. Be back here at four thirty in the morning.”
“Sir…?”
“Get some sleep, Ms. Rivers. You’ll want to be rested for the mine.” He turned, walked up his wooden stairs, and closed the door to his cabin.
I was left alone in the woods and spent the next hour snapping pictures of the canaries in their cages. I took a couple pictures of his house and the surrounding trees, packed up my camera and trekked back to my motel.

“You finished yet?” Delvos stood up. The mine was dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I had sifted through, into my pocket.
Delvos grunted and the canary flapped in its cage as he stood again and, swinging the lantern, rounded another corner. The path we were on began to take a noticeable ***** downward and the moisture on the walls and air multiplied.  
The lantern flickered against the moist, black stones, sleek and piled in the corners we past. The path stopped ahead at a wall of solid black and brown Earth.
The canary chirped twice.
It smelled of clay and mildew and Delvos said, “Go on, touch it.”
I reached my hand out, camera uselessly hanging like a bat over my shoulder. The rock was cold and hard. It felt dead.
The canary was fluttering its wings in the cage now, chirping every few seconds.
“This is the last tunnel they were digging when the gas under our feet broke free from hell and killed those men.”
Delvos hoisted the lantern above our heads, illuminatin
Cyril Blythe Feb 2014
Around December 14th I realize the worth of a callous because of the shedding that inevitably ensues, starting late November. My feet, less commonly bare or clad in Chacos in the winter months as an adult, shed the opaque layers of time that Alabama red-clay and North Carolina pine needles form. Vivid, is the time needed to create a callous and vivid is the sting of a February pinecone on a bare foot, innocent, though learned, yearning for warmer days.
pluie d'été Apr 2014
You can't save me
With you smoke veiled eyes
Filled with honesty and deceit
Your words
Falling like the ocean
Deafens me
With their beauty
In silence
And it's not enough
Those lines
About me
In the tattered notebook
My initials
On your skin
Tattooed
And scarred
Like the rain in the sky
With echoes
Like thunder
Following the sobs
You hide behind your calloused hands
Can't you ever
Show me the lightening
Because that's the only thing
I need to see

And the thunder
From me
Is all you need to hear
But my lightening
Is what you get to see
And you think it's everything
But how can everything
Last only a second?
lX0st Nov 2015
I'm fully aware
Of the sadness in your kiss,
But the softness of your lips
Makes it easy to bear.

And yes, I am conscious
That your kind hands are calloused,
But I will always hold them,
I will always be there.
Tay Jul 2016
It's called anxiety.
Sometimes, I can pay attention to you.
Sometimes, I can't.
Some days are better than other ones.
But the others,
Well, the other ones look a little like trains Going a little too fast for their tracks
Like clocks that break their glass fronts
And cartoon characters with smoke
Coming from their heels when they run
Running faster than the 60 seconds a minute allows
It is my body moving too fast for me to Catch my breath but I'm just sitting at my Desk tapping my pencil and I can feel the Teacher drilling holes into the back of my
Skull
I know the God-awful sound is killing her
But it is keeping me from going insane
It is chewing away the insides of my Cheeks
And scratching at my forehead
Looking for answers
But always coming up with hungry hands
It's hearing white noise
And glass shattering
And candles flickering
I know I should not be hearing a candle
Dance
But I do
It's just me spinning out of control
I know you've noticed I'm no longer using Punctuation but this is how I always feel
This is how my mind is
It is always racing
My foot swings back and forth like
Poe's Pit and the Pendulum swinging faster and faster towards my chest and it's Always on fire
My hands fumble with puzzle pieces
Because I identify with the one that's
Always missing
It is being lonely in the hands of someone
Who loves me
I feel his calloused hands hollowly like I
Don't have a right to them
It is wanting to scream to the hooded
Figure in the door "I'm scared" but it
Coming out as an inaudible crack in my
Voice
I find solace in the cracks between tile
I'm looking at my reflection in black Screens wishing I could just pick myself Up
From the bottom of orange bottles with
Safety-***** lids
A doctor once told me one day I would be
Okay
But one day seems to be miles and
Years away
I've shrunk to the size of a stick
My bones jutting out every which way
Paper-thin and too many words to fill the
Hole in my confidence a man once bore Into me
My hands shake when I step into a church
Like I've done something wrong
My mind goes over every event up until
Now wondering why my hands shake and
My chest drops below the floor
Grandmother tells me I will go to hell if I Do not act right and my mother tells me it Is
All in my head
But again a doctor gave me
An orange bottle with thirty tiny white pills And told me one day everything Would be
Okay.
I just want it to be okay.
My mind is always racing like the way "Normal"
Ones do before taking a test not studied for.
I'm sure you will consider this an episode
Of marked depression, but this monster is Anxiety.
Sometimes I can pay attention to you.
Other times I can't because of this
Infinitely.
Running.
Mind.
Holden Craig Jul 2014
My mother's breath is tainted with alcohol
She's on my floor, sleeping away the dinner she refused to swallow
I try to forget she was never there, and remember how hollow
Her skinny love for me was, and I ate my way into her Hell
The first cigarette, the first drink, the first time I forgot to think
I was induced in her fairy tale, my morals wothout ink, to go on
I tried to slip away, grasp a hint of bliss
I did catch something, and that was a fish

Her name was Autumn
Her hands on my shoulders, mine on her hips
We were one glance away, and this time, it hit
An anchor she was, I left my dreaded life behind
I took her calloused hand, and she took mine
Our pasts weren't us, they were our luggage
We dropped it off far back, buried it, covered it
A pair of suicidal lovers, a kiss above the chin

I was pulled on a thread
Seven months of lies
She was a chameleon
No painful past of cries
She wasn't molested
Her mom wasn't at the end of the line
Her dad didn't abuse her
Now wasn't her time

She left me longing for another
Another Autumn, another lover
I didn't love her, I loved who I thought she was
I know I will see her again, when the leaves are dust
She is so sorry
Sorry I'm sad
She got to live the life
The life I never had

I yearn to forget the name of Autumn
Until the season leaves, fall from the pealing trees
I will lie in the lies of the baked brown leaves
Crumple them one by one, calming myself, forming ease
Chills form around my neck
The same spot my mother gripped my throat
It is so hard to love someone, who despises being loved
My mother, a liar, a man sitting above
Jordan Rowan Aug 2015
There's a prophet on the railway
He's coming with a book
Written by a woman
And blessed by a crook
The station's been preparing
For his arrival, coming soon
He doesn't know a single person
In the town under the moon

His robes are made of velvet
And his chains out of gold
His eyes look about a hundred
Yet he's only twenty-two years old
His hands are un-calloused
With pages stapled to his chest
In his mind he believes
That he alone knows best

His name came from Berkley
But he hails from the south
His mother gave him nothing
So he found his own way out
In the dead of the night by his candlelight
He heard a voice calling him
It told to me ride north
And let the people rejoice him

On their Sunday feast he sets down his feet
In a town of simple heads
He gets on a podium
And he lifts them from their beds
He promises them redemption
He promises them the end
And with just a touch of his hand
He promises they'll be heaven sent

It's been six long years
And his statue's turning green
Just like his money
Which lights his swisher sweets
He knows his just a man
Made of flesh and rotten skin
He knows this and yet
He's the one who wins
Tom Spencer Mar 2018
On a thin ribbon of light
unfurled from unseen heaven
direct to her parted robe
and disquieted ear

comes an angel’s voice,
the dove’s winged companion,
with words foretold in the book
now slipping to the floor.

What hunger fires
our flickering imaginations,
that require Grace come
wrapped in velvet purses-

with proof of the child’s
purity dripping from tables
and prophet encrusted walls?
I think they had it all wrong-

Fra Angelico, Veronese, van Ecyk,
and even Martini with his
gilded apprehension.
I prefer a scene without

unblemished lilies-
no fine linens, puffing cherubs,
or embroidered pillows on display.
I picture her instead

at her daily labor- pulling
on a ***** rope at the village well.
With calloused hands, she
draws her trembling reflection

skyward, when, announced
by the slightest breeze,
a stranger appears.
Before their eyes meet,

a bird’s flight distracts her-
water splashes from the bucket
washing the dust from her feet
and soaking the tattered hem

of her robe. His silent glance
holds her only for a moment.
In the distance, a voice
calls out, “Daughter!”

She turns, sets off,
bowing to her burden.
A cloud’s shadow
melts in the heat of the road.



Tom Spencer © 2018

— The End —