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Jedd Ong Jan 2016
For volleyball games with our kids*

and the grit of dirt slipping through your teeth
like a pancaked hand flat on cement surface.
Ball. Court. It is a good morning and
the sunrise rises to give life to the game. This game:
ours. We run and jump and sing; old bones

made to jog its memory. Bounces the ball and we run
again. Laughing like children. Next to the children.
Leaping after them. Watch as the ball rises high
in the sky next as outstretched arms give chase
to them: its hands caked with dirt; gravel on nails
from the swept cement rock and line paint. This we

share like a communion, a church service. Young
and old, here and not here we rise and we
fall prostate next to the prayers of the net, the brush of fingertips
against fabric against rubber, each palm
of the ball a Sunday chorus stretching, congregation, religion,

swept from the sky and made to kiss ground where
the gods of our sweat and grit belong.
Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of *****.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.

Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the ***** tonks and bars and ****
that man that gave me that awful name.

But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the *****,
mangy dog that named me Sue.

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, "My name is Sue. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die." Yeah, that's what I told him.

Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair
right across his teeth. And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.

And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that name that helped to make you strong."

Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to **** me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do. But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue."
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2013
The Island Moorea,
backpacking Tahiti,
In the heat, the sun,
The rhythm of my footfalls
crunching loose gravel road,
The swish of pack swaying
in conert to my measured pace.

Breeze pushing branches of Palm,
Ocean waves breaching shoreline long.
Island vehicles passing, occupant's laughing,
a man laboring under large pack, alone walking,
Who could have been freely riding,
Unthinkable to Island Folk,
in hot tropical places.

Some humble homes pasted along the way.
Greetings exchanged with smiling faces there.
Not long afterward a new sound approaching,
crunching gravel, rolling up behind me.

A lovely young girl, perhaps nineteen,
long brown naked legs bike a peddling.
Hair jet black, long to her waist, wearing
a sarong, split up the side,
Shoulders bare and brown.
Dark eyes of wonder, sparkling of youth.
A radiant smile adorning a splendid face.

We went for a time at my even pace,
looking and smiling each in our place.
"Hello there," I said, she giggled, beamed
even bigger. Perfect teeth displayed.

"Why you walk?" She asked in heavily
accented puzzlement.

"To get to where I'm going". I replied
This response producing a pleasant laugh
from the girl. In which I too joined in.

"You go One Chicken?" She asked
I stopped then and turned to her.
"Where is One Chicken?" I questioned
with a grin.

She raised her graceful arm,
one finger pointing up the road.
"One Chicken there," she informed.

It was a store/bar, sort of place,
In the very midst of nowhere.
Indeed, more than one chicken roamed,
Many chickens did and a pig or two,
mingling free and doing their thing.

We entered out of the bright daylight,
into the deepest of darks,
Like in a movie theater, when arriving late.
Eyes adjusting slowly to what lay ahead.

A few Island Beers later,
I had acquired several new friends,
The girl my invitation to the party of
already happy people a little drunk on beer.
The Music was mostly of French persuasion,
With a bit of Bob Dylan thrown in.
The Beatles also had a tune or two.
The Liverpool beat resounding down Tahiti way.

Before the light did fail, I shouldered my pack
and walked some distance from Chickens and Pigs.
Found the beach, hung my Hammock for the night.
Built a small fire and opened a can of Spam delight.

She appeared again about ten,
looking beautiful in the new moonlight.
Newly washed hair, still damp and
smelling fresh of Lilacs,
Or some such aromatic scent.
We did not speak, no words were needed,

Made love on the sand, 'till the retreat of the
tide and sand ***** did come out, in their
eerie numbers, to eat what was at hand.
I suppose even us if we let them.

We retired then both to my hammock,
A pretty neat trick if you can swing it.
And we did.

She was so childlike and yet,
very much a woman grown.
There was no pretense shown,
no false inhibitions rendered.
These were not limitations of her culture.
people that respond to their emotional impulses.
An open and free spirited people living
passionately within each minute.

It all felt more akin to a dream than real,
All around me there was beauty,
Loving and being loved without hurry,
Free of guilt or even a single expectation.
Living in that wondrous moment,
of uncomplicated human splendor.
Like some Garden of Eden surrender.
A real life Gauguin painting.

In the morning, we swam naked in the sea,
frolicked like kids having a day at the beach.
Made love in the sand, I dozed in the sun.
Upon awaking she was gone.

I waited an hour or two, packed up my camp,
shouldered my load and returned to the road.
A few minutes later, again I heard the now
familiar crunch of rubber tires,
rolling road surface and there she was,
a straw basket in her Bike's basket,  
A huge smile on her unforgettable,
beautiful face.

We sat in a grove of trees,
among birds singing, in sight of the sea,
Upon a Palm log and ate fresh bread and
fruit. Drank strong black coffee (French Roast
I presume,) nibbling some marvelous cheese.
We tried to talk, but she understood little of
what I tried to say, my French was nearly
nonexistent, only adding to confusions sake .

She leaned her head on my shoulder,
the way lovers do and tenderly held
my hand within her two,
As if not wanting to let go,
Those gestures said all there was to say,
And we savored each silent moment.

We parted there, she on blue, rusty bike
and me on "shanks mare",
Off in two different directions,
Each out into the depths of our own lives,
Gone just like that. . . And yet,
Indelible, never to be forgotten or replaced.
Some days and nights, that young maiden of
Moorea does still visit me, in dreams as real
as can be. She never grows old, nor does the
beauty we shared for that one brief moment in
time immortal.

Someplace among the Islands of Tahiti
there is a woman in her sixties, most likely
a Mother, even a Grandmother yet living.
I hope she recalls as fondly the American blond
man with the big Orange Backpack, that in 1972
she met upon the road, near "One Chicken" and
loved freely and completely for two days and a
night, as that man does so fondly remember her.
Snowflake Dec 2014
Sometimes the world is rough,
like gravel is always tough.
but when this happens I must trust,
the one that is closer then my own trust.
The river is flowing now,
this is bigger than a frown.
But now I must try again,
a old friend means a new grin.
Just something I came up with randomly. I feel this way a lot x3
Following the long winding road with the
Dark clouds and lightning grabbing at our heels,
Gravel kicking up dust in the rearview,
We flew like sparrows in the spring wind.
Johnny Cash singing throughout the speakers;
Tunes of walking lines and rings of fire.
The clearing was just ahead, sandwiched in
Between tall evergreen trees with acorns
Where small sparrows wait for a worm dinner.
for my creative writing class
Salty rancher spackle is to Earthy diva smackers as Swinging hotel number is to?
Rippling cling bread is to Three lizard chariots as Indigo lime tangent is to?
Nighttime reunion planet is to Nettle lane scuffle as Soaking spider *** is to?
Fancy trance logs are to Sticky fudge lather as Vivacious gator college is to?
Cheerful blossom face is to Secret tractor rocket as Canned gremlin emblems are to?
Jealous pitchfork generals are to Heartbreaking patchwork veranda as Folding robot noise is to?
Pretty rhino rash is to Lost locket vengeance as Back pocket weather is to?
Frosted candy sidewalk is to Sneaky kook code as Shiny waffle smoke is to?
Sapphire cloud romance is to Magnetic comet lava as Blue triangle envy is to?
Vanishing honey melody is to Thermal elf pajamas as Whistling iceboat shampoo is to?
Peach mint politics is to Frozen doll pennies as Rusty anchor catapult is to?
Swollen pony fever Throbbing sword kazoo as Silent turbine science is to?
Obese germ thunder is to Stacked lemon towers as Corrupt moon jockey is to?
Demented insect whistle is to Glass trophy cleanup as Purple geode bubble is to?
Nighttime razor slime is to Lacquered dragon maps as Tint paper mittens are to?
**** camel drops are to Velvet ****** shoes as Slippery red muffins are to?
Flying hot drool is to Pale chocolate telescope as Tin trumpet ballet is to?
Expensive puppy speed is to Flowered duck mirror as Cosmic needle factory is to?
Fractured laser doodles are to Cracked butter gravel as Rubber holster straps are to?
Majestic panther fortress is to Jeweled cork target as Iron swan taxi is to?
Poisonous pepper bouillon is to ****** goat soap as Chrome feather pirates are to?
Digital gorilla scriptures are to Timid hunter stench as Frozen domino video is to?
Eccentric troll opera is to Transparent wax village as Spoiled coral agony is to?
Bizarre green metal is to Pillow eating hamster as Leather cavern ***** are to?
Eternal hurricane evidence is to Powdered rainbow perfume as Smoking yellow prune is to?
Liquid wish cleanser is to Exploding meadow ladders as Brittle rose hammer is to?
Caged foam filter is to Cherry balloon string as Ivory cactus spider is to?
Carbon puppet watch is to Sad kings compass as Elastic lace whiskers are to?
Nitrogen trolley dust is to Lazy elephant toffee as Orange toad choir is to?
Dark pole zodiac is to Blue finger blanket as Illegal bug nozzle is to?
Stinky towel cookies are to White jade caskets as Sticky snail tea is to?
Converting stellated caramels is to Mythic aerosol socks as Rubber raspberry jokes are to?
Flying clock carousel is to Whisky nut worms as Plastic fish platforms are to?
Queasy Vaseline queens are to Moody pigeon pills as Aqua mice fur is to?
Spotted bowl shadow is to Idiotic radiance lotion as Bungalow toad hearse is to?
Gushing chimney fungus is to Funky lamb acrobat as Utopian **** sprinkler is to?
Twinkling bungalow tablet is to Botanical duck rope as Bug hat ram is to?
Broken clock fossil is to Black ginger confetti as Parisian cobra meatloaf is to?
Silly Xerox ribbon is to Obedient raccoon carny as Traditional cat linguini is to?
Last astral advisor is to Elastic badger riddles as Broken circle rifles are to?
Bagged squire channel is to Temporary mosaic cake as Ancient bacon thread is to?
Wireless math army is to Moronic neon money as Pearl razor radar is to?
Rubber buzzard blizzard is to Troubled bubble wizard as Crushed hash ******* is to?
Purple birdy cure is to Tangled frost blossoms as Silken bridal saddle is to?
Unisex owl accordion is to Sugar bottomed boat as Optical nougat treasure is to?
Flavored saline rain is to Black arrow clan as Transistorized clam guitar is to?
Sharpened twig scar is to Mutant beet sonar as Baked troll mask is to?
Boxed noodle secrets are to Traditional guru buttons as Glossy marshmallow strategy is to?
Vibrating melted jelly is to Silver furniture dream as Spewing collated seats is to?
Burnt mountain pickles are to Baby preacher shoes as Sympathetic pilot pain is to?
Narrow portal treaty is to Monkey warehouse vacancy as Painted tornado trap is to?
Porch penny sulfur is to Glowing pony fat as Patched mattress bait is to?
Frigid waitress fallacy is to Graphic shrimp salute as Misted sneezing window is to?
Moist apple moss is to Daddy’s zoom seed as Downtown Pope cart is to?
Tired felon trickle is to Holographic squirrel candle as Wild ray hay is to?
Deadly zero chalk is to Folding wilderness chart as Curved ******* vacuum is to?
Hollow porcelain pellets are to Strawberry rain stencils as Microwave taxi nomads are to?
Wasted machete balcony is to Crumpled creature confessions as Fridge fuzzed fruit is to?
Sloppy demon damage is to Squeaky puppet chuckle as Mental arcade combat is to?
Monster trout stories are to Lewd pirate cocktail as Locked mammal grommet is to?
Rotting rope network is to Tragic toy goat as Cotton submarine shoes are to?
Complex pepper dance is to ****** cloud cushion as Marching taxi holiday is to?
Mental petal collectors are to Spooned barn putty as Dork factory fiction is to?
Hot spotted tops are to Timed stepping pests as Yogurt notching tartar is to?
Crazy dog comics are to Ambitious cartoon sphinx as Pavlov’s zinc ballet is to?
Soiled spinster wedding is to Padded razor wound as Floating fish map is to?
Slippery leopard pants are to Perfumed nut button as Dart wizard party is to?
Needy alien elephants are to Barking garden gnats as Quasar focused paper is to?
Slanted heart **** is to Bronzed cliff sandals are to Cunning jockey jokes are to?
***** thumbprint massage is to Holistic princess memory as Sliding dental sword is to?
Drifting wood whistle is to Fluorescent carpet powder as Foam dragon whistle is to?
Chopped web shadow is to Immortal vermin soup as Collapsing porch conspiracy is to?
Stolen thunder chant is to Haunted comet heart as Swollen throat portrait is to?
Fragrant frost parfait is to Grumpy caveman *** as Random stingray solo is to?
Squeaky polar turbine is to Silent lava fever as Oversized lunar fulcrum is to?
Synthetic dew droppers are to Pocket poster paste as Hypnotic screen dog is to?
Symbolic whirlpool nausea is to Dreaming tree phantom as Log badge bracket is to?
Camp hippo map is to Horseradish seizure insurance as Distant insect mirror is to?
German lady sherbet is to Stuntman laundry wax as Hungry butterfly ghost is to?
Fly smudged foil is to Amped maze coil as Shifting optic terror is to?
Automatic sheep floss is to Panoramic tanker anchor as Throbbing bone pillow is to?
Mutant clown village is to Nightmare translation treasure as Spotted spectral chakra is to?
Blind roach tweat is to Hermit worm tiara as Divine logo ritual is to?
Glueless gun stamp is to Malicious spam pump as Floral toffee pods are to?
Dudgeon mist removal is to Menacing bolt smacker as Boating duke shadow is to?
Costly metal plungers are to Creaky buzzing gushers as Glowing star cushions are to?
Raked barge sludge is to Crusted cream glitter as Zircon gutter babble is to?
Fake gold scholar is to Amish ******* mogul as Faithful ***** choir is to?
Sacred limo prayers are to Fried mice café as Splintered ****** thimble is to?
Dealing rabbit decals is to Pelican bongo festival as Patched equator rot is to?
Freedom gourd gasoline is to Cobblers studying acorns as Desecrated dice crater is to?
Tattered tapestry rod is to Busted particle scanner as Bogus piffle catalogue is to?
Trifle truffle raffle is to Last lamb laminate as Segmented cake goggles are to?
Domestic tackle tactic is to Ticking tic talk as Cordial corps coordinates is to?
Tucked duck caftan is to Sunken ramp ruckus as Wretched ranch rhetoric is to?
Clearly incomprehensible directions are to Useful archaic nonsense as Antiquated skeletal outline is to?
Bewildered beasts feasting are to Lazy busybodies resting as Vaccinating brave volunteers are to?
Lucky wagon dragons are to Famous gargoyle gargle as Formal postman funding is to?
Furrowed shroud chowder is to Borrowed tartan pajamas as Martini mixed algebra is to?
Cowgirl balloon helium is to Chewy glucose habitat as Stationary monument movement is to?
Diamond powered powder is to Diagonal diameter diagram as Purposely condensed expansion is to?
Organic iodine capsule is to Gleaming beach probe as Dominant dome static is to?
Shaving wrinkled targets is to Petting sensible monsters as Selling invisible whiskey is to?
Frozen piano architecture is to Note dotted clouds as Screaming Korean worms are to?
Sonic plant website is to Telepathic climbing clam as Bored protein exercise is to?
Gourmet mollusk cone is to Numb poodle caravan as Asian raven radar is to?
We began in a place
where growth is purposefully prevented.
Weeds struggle through cracks,
reaching desperately for sunlight
only to be flattened in passing.

Parking lots
are for coming and going.
For undeveloped beginnings
and unexplained parting.
The gravel catches snippets of sentences,
and a whole conversation ever so often.
It is not meant to see
the middle of the story,
the falling of a heart.

We began in parking lots.
The gravel listened closely
as we discussed our aspirations
and learned each other
piece by piece.
The cement soaked up every detail:
our first few kisses beside my car,
the first whispered "i love you,"
the development of our intimacy
haloed by a streetlamp.

We grew in the comfort of asphalt,
of parking lines and late night love.
We stretched our hearts
to grow in the sun
(or, rather, in the moonlight)
and let our bodies lead,
enchanted.

We are the gravel's dream,
our love forever captured
in parking lots and starlight.
SG Holter Jun 2014
During the very earliest 1900s
A little boy walked a gravel road
With his grandfather.

The old man kept whittling him
Birch shoots that he whipped at
Weeds with, before he threw them

Aside; ready for another. "Cut me a
Whip, grandpa." "Cut me another."
The old man obeyed smiling.

The man was my great-great
Grandfather. The boy,
My grandfather's oldest brother.

I grew up walking
Those same gravel roads.
Whipping.
Cyril Blythe Sep 2012
I followed him down the trail until we got to the mouth of the mines. The life and energy of the surrounding maples and birches seemed to come to a still and then die as we walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelt 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 slimy smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped.
“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.” He rolled his eyes.
“Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling.
“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. In my blinding anger I lost track of his lantern. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I did in Peru.
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. Somewhere in front of me the canary chirped.

When I first got the job 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 said. He handed me the manila case envelope. “He’s lived in rural Vermont his entire life. Apparently his family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When the accident happened the whole town basically shut down. There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly after. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He ships them to other mining towns across the country now. We want to run a piece about the inhumanity of breeding animals to die so humans won’t.” I stood in silence in front of his deep mahogany desk, suddenly aware of the lack of make-up on my face. 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.”

“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers? Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.” Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me. He relit the oily lantern and turned his back without another word. I reluctantly 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,” and 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 interspersed in-between. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good nights sleep and defeat this towns fear of John Delvos tomorrow.
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 and pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC. I stepped out onto the dirt in front of my door and lit up. I looked up and the stars stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except it’s sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the stars 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 Waters, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Waters, are you new to town?”
“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.”
The stars tiptoed in their tiny circles above in the silence. Then, they disappeared with 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.
“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 stars dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Waters. 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 cold dust beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed, “See that yellow notch?” 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 thankful I am to find out where to find this elusive Mr. Delvos and his canaries.”
“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 stars dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary chirped and Delvos stopped.
“This is a good place to break out fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky this 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. Waters.” 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 hurriedly 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 flickering yellow brushes and 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 of course 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 birds 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.”
The canary chirped, 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 Waters, 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 CEO’s for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Waters.” 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. Waters. 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 little, yellow 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 and the memory of his green and brown wooded homestead fled from my memory as the mine again consumed my consciousness. Dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I 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 canary chirped.
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 smelt 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 flitting 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, illuminating the surrounding gloom. All was completely still and even my own vapor seemed to fall out of my mouth and simply die. The canary was dancing a frantic jig, now, similar to the mating dance of the Great Frigate Bird I shot in the Amazon jungle. As I watched the canary and listened to its small wings beat against the cold metal cage I begin to feel dizzy. The bird’s cries had transformed into a scream colder than fire and somehow more fierce.
The ability to fly is what always made me jealous of birds as a child, but as my temple throbbed and the canary danced I realized I was amiss. Screaming, yellow feathers whipped and the entire inside of the cage was instantaneously filled. It was beautiful until the very end. Dizzying, really.
Defeated, the canary sank to the floor, one beaten wing hanging out of the iron bars at a most unnatural angle. Its claws were opening and closing, grasping the tainted cave air, or, perhaps, trying to push it away. Delvos unclipped the cage and sat it on the floor in the space between us, lantern still held swaying above his head. The bird was aflame now, the silent red blood absorbing into the apologetic, yellow feathers. Orange, a living fire. I pulled out my camera as I sat on the ground beside the cage. I took a few shots, the camera’s clicks louder than the feeble chirps sounding out of the canary’s tattered, yellow beak. My head was spinning. Its coal-black eyes reflected the lantern’s flame above. I could see its tiny, red tongue in the bottom of its mouth.
Opening.
Closing.
Opening, wider, too wide, then,
Silence.


I felt dizzy. I remember feeling the darkness surround me; it felt warm.

“I vaguely remember Delvos helping me to my feet, but leaving the mine was a complete haze.” I told the panel back in D.C., “It wasn’t until we had crossed the stream on the way back to the cabin that I began to feel myself again. Even then, I felt like I was living a dream. When we got back to the cabin the sight of the lively yellow canaries in their coops made me cry. Delvos brought me a bottle of water and told me I needed to hit the trail because the sun set early in the winter, so I le
MsAmendable Jul 2015
The hard-packed gravel road in the woods
Winds and twists and meanders
And is lined on either side by sun-lit dusty branches
And thin twining trees with more leaves than trunk
Which turn into standing logs, tall and thin and dappled,
Branches high, dusky and shifting light,
Or a charred forest of once-was pointing out the sky
Or fields of soft baby pines in the sun,
Sometimes clearing to show
The sharp gentle curve of mountains
Rising green and falling blue,
Fuzzy edges of pine lining,
Slowly obscured again by one tree, then two
Then a small forest of thin trees
And dusty sunlit bushes
Lining a meandering, twisting, winding
Hard-packed gravel road in the woods
laika Sep 2014
Block by block
I delve down
is it iron?
is it gold?
or only gravel and stone

toiling with pick and shovel
I dream obsidian spires
towering 190 blocks above the shore

I dream wheat fields
and cow pens
nestled amidst rolling hills

I dream discovery
mystery
exploration

but before these
there must be iron
Katrina Wendt May 2012
I want to touch my fingertips
To the center of the brim of your cap
And run them along the edge
One hand in each direction
Until the stiff peak gives way to soft fabric.

I will gently slide my fingers
Under the edge of your cap
Until it lifts off your head
So that I can toss it behind you
To be forgotten about.

I will trace your jawline
While you say things
In that honeyed, gravely voice of yours
Only it's not quite gravel- not that harsh
More akin with rough sand.

Then you will smile
And your teeth will shine white against your tan skin
While your eyes crinkle and laugh
And I will fall, sinking into their pool
Of warm, caramel coffee.

You will find my hand with yours
And interlock your fingers with mine
Holding them both to your chest
Your hands are large, rough, and strong
You only hold my hand, but my body is paralyzed
2012
Shaine Fraz Aug 2016
This isn't Rome
I'm standing still because of statutes

Stone grill-- l a carved marble statue not a muscle dares,
near frozen by the fear let it go I hear
over shoulder
(Dilfer dime-- if I get shot over a penalty)

Is it clear
my arms are arms a load chopper in his shades,
do those aviators make me even darker
(if I studied aviation I could take off I can hover, I can--)
WAIT he's moving closer,
every hair strand an antenna,
I can feel him,

The smell of disdain on his glare
stained blood on his hands
another brother, my brother

Guiltier with every pace so..
--show your hands,
foot mixed with concrete I take this order serious,
my motions are motive and mistaken for resist,

Wait
Is it his stare or am I ******,
(Why did I decide to go my friends wouldn't believe this limitations to the thoughts)

am I arrested or caught,

I'm cold on the surface
Erode so slow is my sediment evidence,
A blue god so I'm pacified,
I'm hesitant,
he calls and I say that I'm innocent,
I'm witnessing
the transitioning from eruption to ocean-- volcanic,

Blue Medusa
can you only sculpt destruction,
(I'm not 3 dimensional, I'm real and I matter, I'm real and I matter)
I'm real But I shatter,

Gravel if determined that I'm rude so I cant breath,
Gravel if My license plate removed I don't leave,
I don't speak,
I don't flee,
I'm not free,
I believe,
That this happen to mothers mother
mothers brother,

Brother from another was granite
and granted hes valuable but only in a home, of course,

I'm quartz in the making
A corpse still shaking--
Cause a wallet was mistaken
Or i.d. was misplaced

So I'm on the rocks
since the bar says that I'm a criminal,
velvet rope divider marks my life and a visual,
a wake,
or a hashtag,
you choose,
glass house,
cold stones,
rocky road,
medusa licks his finger tips same finger which petrified me in the first place,

Reminded I'm in Rome as im standing there motionless
a statue for display or a trophy for the kitchen,
this art is not for sale there will be no shipping,

With solidarity through our solidification,
It won't matter if we look back,
We Matter and We Black.
© 2016 by S Fraz All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of S Fraz
Gonzo Oct 2010
Well I drive the speed limit,

When I'm on the blacktop,

Because ya ain't gonna know,

If yer gettin eyeballed by the cops.



When I see the gravel,

Comin' up around the bend,

I turn the corner, hit the gas,

And my tires start to spin.



I get my get 'em up stuck,

In my pickup truck.

The gravel gets my guages,

goin' up, up, up.



In my pickup truck,

Ain't no slowin' me down.

I love my pickup truck,

Kickin' up dust clouds.



If it's rainin', you're complainin',

About the mud and the muck,

But ya know that I'll be playin,

In my pickup truck.



I get my get 'em up stuck,

In my pickup truck.

The mud gets my guages,

goin' up, up, up.



In my pickup truck,

Ain't no slowin' me down.

I love my pickup truck,

Throwin mud around.



When your rollin' around,

On the ice and in the snow

Sittin' in the ditch,

your car don't wanna go.



Who's the one ya call,

To get ya unstuck,

Ring-a-ding-a-ling-a-ling,

Ya need my pickup truck.



I get my get 'em up stuck,

In my pickup truck.

The winter gets my guages,

goin' up, up, up.



In my pickup truck,

Ain't no slowin' me down.

I love my pickup truck,

Haulin' people 'round,



Time to move is here,

And I back up to your door.

Packing out your things,

Until my truck can't fit no more.



I get my get 'em up stuck,

In my pickup truck.

Helpin' friends gets my guages,

goin' up, up, up.



In my pickup truck,

Ain't no slowin' me down.

I love my pickup truck,

Helpin' friends movin' 'cross town



I can't get enough,

Of my pickup truck.

If I had to do without it,

then my life would ****.



Ya know my life would ****,

Without my pickup truck.

I would feel like half a man,

Without my pickup truck.
PERSONIFICATIONS.

Boys.            Girls.
  January.                February.
  March.                  April.
  July.                   May.
  August.                 June.
  October.                September.
  December.               November.

  Robin Redbreasts; Lambs and Sheep; Nightingale and
  Nestlings.

  Various Flowers, Fruits, etc.

  Scene: A Cottage with its Grounds.


[A room in a large comfortable cottage; a fire burning on
the hearth; a table on which the breakfast things have
been left standing. January discovered seated by the
fire.]


          January.

Cold the day and cold the drifted snow,
Dim the day until the cold dark night.

                    [Stirs the fire.

Crackle, sparkle, *****; embers glow:
Some one may be plodding through the snow
Longing for a light,
For the light that you and I can show.
If no one else should come,
Here Robin Redbreast's welcome to a crumb,
And never troublesome:
Robin, why don't you come and fetch your crumb?


  Here's butter for my hunch of bread,
    And sugar for your crumb;
  Here's room upon the hearthrug,
    If you'll only come.

  In your scarlet waistcoat,
    With your keen bright eye,
  Where are you loitering?
    Wings were made to fly!

  Make haste to breakfast,
    Come and fetch your crumb,
  For I'm as glad to see you
    As you are glad to come.


[Two Robin Redbreasts are seen tapping with their beaks at
the lattice, which January opens. The birds flutter in,
hop about the floor, and peck up the crumbs and sugar
thrown to them. They have scarcely finished their meal,
when a knock is heard at the door. January hangs a
guard in front of the fire, and opens to February, who
appears with a bunch of snowdrops in her hand.]

          January.

Good-morrow, sister.

          February.

            Brother, joy to you!
I've brought some snowdrops; only just a few,
But quite enough to prove the world awake,
Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew
And for the pale sun's sake.

[She hands a few of her snowdrops to January, who retires
into the background. While February stands arranging
the remaining snowdrops in a glass of water on the
window-sill, a soft butting and bleating are heard outside.
She opens the door, and sees one foremost lamb, with
other sheep and lambs bleating and crowding towards
her.]

          February.

O you, you little wonder, come--come in,
You wonderful, you woolly soft white lamb:
You panting mother ewe, come too,
And lead that tottering twin
Safe in:
Bring all your bleating kith and kin,
Except the ***** ram.

[February opens a second door in the background, and the
little flock files through into a warm and sheltered compartment
out of sight.]

  The lambkin tottering in its walk
    With just a fleece to wear;
  The snowdrop drooping on its stalk
      So slender,--
  Snowdrop and lamb, a pretty pair,
  Braving the cold for our delight,
      Both white,
      Both tender.

[A rattling of doors and windows; branches seen without,
tossing violently to and fro.]

How the doors rattle, and the branches sway!
Here's brother March comes whirling on his way
With winds that eddy and sing.

[She turns the handle of the door, which bursts open, and
discloses March hastening up, both hands full of violets
and anemones.]

          February.

Come, show me what you bring;
For I have said my say, fulfilled my day,
And must away.

          March.

[Stopping short on the threshold.]

    I blow an arouse
    Through the world's wide house
  To quicken the torpid earth:
    Grappling I fling
    Each feeble thing,
  But bring strong life to the birth.
    I wrestle and frown,
    And topple down;
  I wrench, I rend, I uproot;
    Yet the violet
    Is born where I set
  The sole of my flying foot,

[Hands violets and anemones to February, who retires into
the background.]

    And in my wake
    Frail wind-flowers quake,
  And the catkins promise fruit.
    I drive ocean ashore
    With rush and roar,
  And he cannot say me nay:
    My harpstrings all
    Are the forests tall,
  Making music when I play.
    And as others perforce,
    So I on my course
  Run and needs must run,
    With sap on the mount
    And buds past count
  And rivers and clouds and sun,
    With seasons and breath
    And time and death
  And all that has yet begun.

[Before March has done speaking, a voice is heard approaching
accompanied by a twittering of birds. April comes
along singing, and stands outside and out of sight to finish
her song.]

          April.

[Outside.]

  Pretty little three
  Sparrows in a tree,
    Light upon the wing;
    Though you cannot sing
    You can chirp of Spring:
  Chirp of Spring to me,
  Sparrows, from your tree.

  Never mind the showers,
  Chirp about the flowers
    While you build a nest:
    Straws from east and west,
    Feathers from your breast,
  Make the snuggest bowers
  In a world of flowers.

  You must dart away
  From the chosen spray,
    You intrusive third
    Extra little bird;
    Join the unwedded herd!
  These have done with play,
  And must work to-day.

          April.

[Appearing at the open door.]

Good-morrow and good-bye: if others fly,
Of all the flying months you're the most flying.

          March.

You're hope and sweetness, April.

          April.

            Birth means dying,
As wings and wind mean flying;
So you and I and all things fly or die;
And sometimes I sit sighing to think of dying.
But meanwhile I've a rainbow in my showers,
And a lapful of flowers,
And these dear nestlings aged three hours;
And here's their mother sitting,
Their father's merely flitting
To find their breakfast somewhere in my bowers.

[As she speaks April shows March her apron full of flowers
and nest full of birds. March wanders away into the
grounds. April, without entering the cottage, hangs over
the hungry nestlings watching them.]

          April.

  What beaks you have, you funny things,
    What voices shrill and weak;
  Who'd think that anything that sings
    Could sing through such a beak?
  Yet you'll be nightingales one day,
    And charm the country-side,
  When I'm away and far away
    And May is queen and bride.

[May arrives unperceived by April, and gives her a kiss.
April starts and looks round.]

          April.

Ah May, good-morrow May, and so good-bye.

          May.

That's just your way, sweet April, smile and sigh:
Your sorrow's half in fun,
Begun and done
And turned to joy while twenty seconds run.
I've gathered flowers all as I came along,
At every step a flower
Fed by your last bright shower,--

[She divides an armful of all sorts of flowers with April, who
strolls away through the garden.]

          May.

And gathering flowers I listened to the song
Of every bird in bower.
    The world and I are far too full of bliss
    To think or plan or toil or care;
      The sun is waxing strong,
      The days are waxing long,
        And all that is,
          Is fair.

    Here are my buds of lily and of rose,
    And here's my namesake-blossom, may;
      And from a watery spot
      See here forget-me-not,
        With all that blows
          To-day.

    Hark to my linnets from the hedges green,
    Blackbird and lark and thrush and dove,
      And every nightingale
      And cuckoo tells its tale,
        And all they mean
          Is love.

[June appears at the further end of the garden, coming slowly
towards May, who, seeing her, exclaims]

          May.

Surely you're come too early, sister June.

          June.

Indeed I feel as if I came too soon
To round your young May moon
And set the world a-gasping at my noon.
Yet come I must. So here are strawberries
Sun-flushed and sweet, as many as you please;
And here are full-blown roses by the score,
More roses, and yet more.

[May, eating strawberries, withdraws among the flower beds.]

          June.

The sun does all my long day's work for me,
  Raises and ripens everything;
I need but sit beneath a leafy tree
    And watch and sing.

[Seats herself in the shadow of a laburnum.

Or if I'm lulled by note of bird and bee,
  Or lulled by noontide's silence deep,
I need but nestle down beneath my tree
    And drop asleep.

[June falls asleep; and is not awakened by the voice of July,
who behind the scenes is heard half singing, half calling.]

          July.

     [Behind the scenes.]

Blue flags, yellow flags, flags all freckled,
Which will you take? yellow, blue, speckled!
Take which you will, speckled, blue, yellow,
Each in its way has not a fellow.

[Enter July, a basket of many-colored irises slung upon his
shoulders, a bunch of ripe grass in one hand, and a plate
piled full of peaches balanced upon the other. He steals
up to June, and tickles her with the grass. She wakes.]

          June.

What, here already?

          July.

                  Nay, my tryst is kept;
The longest day slipped by you while you slept.
I've brought you one curved pyramid of bloom,

                        [Hands her the plate.

Not flowers, but peaches, gathered where the bees,
As downy, bask and boom
In sunshine and in gloom of trees.
But get you in, a storm is at my heels;
The whirlwind whistles and wheels,
Lightning flashes and thunder peals,
Flying and following hard upon my heels.

[June takes shelter in a thickly-woven arbor.]

          July.

  The roar of a storm sweeps up
    From the east to the lurid west,
  The darkening sky, like a cup,
    Is filled with rain to the brink;

  The sky is purple and fire,
    Blackness and noise and unrest;
  The earth, parched with desire,
      Opens her mouth to drink.

  Send forth thy thunder and fire,
    Turn over thy brimming cup,
  O sky, appease the desire
    Of earth in her parched unrest;
  Pour out drink to her thirst,
    Her famishing life lift up;
  Make thyself fair as at first,
      With a rainbow for thy crest.

  Have done with thunder and fire,
    O sky with the rainbow crest;
  O earth, have done with desire,
    Drink, and drink deep, and rest.

[Enter August, carrying a sheaf made up of different kinds of
grain.]

          July.

Hail, brother August, flushed and warm
And scatheless from my storm.
Your hands are full of corn, I see,
As full as hands can be:

And earth and air both smell as sweet as balm
In their recovered calm,
And that they owe to me.

[July retires into a shrubbery.]

          August.

  Wheat sways heavy, oats are airy,
    Barley bows a graceful head,
  Short and small shoots up canary,
    Each of these is some one's bread;
  Bread for man or bread for beast,
      Or at very least
      A bird's savory feast.

  Men are brethren of each other,
    One in flesh and one in food;
  And a sort of foster brother
    Is the litter, or the brood,
  Of that folk in fur or feather,
      Who, with men together,
      Breast the wind and weather.

[August descries September toiling across the lawn.]

          August.

My harvest home is ended; and I spy
September drawing nigh
With the first thought of Autumn in her eye,
And the first sigh
Of Autumn wind among her locks that fly.

[September arrives, carrying upon her head a basket heaped
high with fruit]


          September.

Unload me, brother. I have brought a few
Plums and these pears for you,
A dozen kinds of apples, one or two
Melons, some figs all bursting through
Their skins, and pearled with dew
These damsons violet-blue.

[While September is speaking, August lifts the basket to the
ground, selects various fruits, and withdraws slowly along
the gravel walk, eating a pear as he goes.]

      
Brian Carson Oct 2013
My life is a gravel road
the further I travel the more rocks in my sole
but oh' the sights I've seen
countryside painted a warm gold by the sun
and the trees the size of giants in clusters of thousands
I've seen skies of many colors, some I can't name
I've felt the tingle of a cool breeze from the top of a mountain
I have danced in the shallow water of a creek bed
under the canopy of autumn trees with colors of a kaleidoscope
I've tasted the sweet nectar of a honeysuckle
and feasted on a blackberry bush at the edge of the wood
So eventhough my life is a gravel road
and I've had enough sour so the sweet never gets old
the thunder may come but it always goes
and even when the road ends, I'll never know
Such small things: a farm in the north, a plantation in the south.
A small urban home rather than
A mansion on the edge of an enormous field.
Paved roads and rail road tracks inside cities instead of
Gravel paths through paths of trees and cotton fields.
Business men walking by or a rich plantation owner
With two African slaves at his side.

They can cause conflict, major differences.
Political views and moral issues.
How the country should be run?
How the people are to live?
The laws and abilities surrounding slaves?
Is it right to own another human?
JeanlBouwer Oct 2010
Walkabout started, in wilderness so bare
With no tracks, roads, homes nor cities in stare
Sticks and stones from my body, did tare
On horizon, welcome glitter of water’s glare
A sense of someone, something’s care
Cool, refreshing, revitalizing there’s no compare
From waterhole a single track, to sun’s lair

This narrow single track, evidence left by life
This road I follow, with mind set blithe
Into thick dark bushes, overgrown and rife
Thorns, cutting and tarring at my life
Pain and anguish, remind me, of life
I turn and look, at the ordeal, I survive
Following track, at cross road I arrive

Any one of four, to go
Back, I do not want to go
Right, a valley below
Left, more rocks and bushes on show
In front, a rainbow
The bow, proof of life bestow
I venture ahead, toward life’s flow

The single track, joined by another
A partnership, parallel to each other
Never did they join, in future
Along these tracks, I venture
These tracks, by contrast a pleasure
If cuts and bruises, the measure
My time on these tracks, I did treasure

Progress, tracks transformed to gravel way
I pass a house, where family could stay
I stopped, turned, looked and walked away
My essence, did not allow me to stray
“It’s not your destiny”, I heard the elders say
Discouraged disappointed lost, I started to pray
Again, a rainbow appeared, to point the way

As gravel way change, to road of tar
On the horizon, the evening star
Inviting noises and lights, of nearby bar
A lady, offer me a ride, with her in car
Voices of the elders, “You’ve already come this far”
If I quit now, this entire journey I did mar
With rainbow gone, I follow morning star


As road of tar, turn to gravel
I stop, turn and stare, with look of baffle
How can people be so concerned with trivial?
Can a single place, contain all that evil
Everyone treated, according to given label
I travel for myself, not to create a fable
In front of me, the rising sun marvel

Gravel road, turn twin track
As I put the city’s madness, to my back
The sun’s lair again my tack
My walk, more determined, there’s no turning back
Lessons learned and experiences stacked
For the remainder, there’s nothing I lack
This easy going, balance the rack

As one track, disappear
In my hand, I catch a joyful tear
Gone the lonely and disillusioned fear
To me, everything is no so clear
I shout out, in joyful cheer
This walk, empowered me to steer
I look to the future, through eyes so pure

I stroll into the wilderness, without a care
No more burdens, to bear
From me, all doubt was tare
In life, awaits no more scare
In front of me, a canvas made bare
A bright colorful future, in my stare
A future, with golden silver glare
Xyns Nov 2014
In a world full of diamonds and emeralds
People with purpose, with great destinies
People who will accomplish great things

I sit among the gravel, the poor few
Who know not what to do
Who can only see the view

We simply go with the flow
Knowing not what to become
What good things we could have done

Those like us, confused and lost
Thinking in blank lines
Thinking in empty sounds

We are the ones wishing
For guidance and clarity
For a chance to be lovely

Dull is gravel, overlooked..ignored
We sit waiting to know more
We sit wanting a chance to soar

Not laziness or bitterness in us
We wish to find our talents
We wish to find our places

We are the gravel, the poor few
Who know not what to do
Who can only enjoy the view
Iris Proctor Jan 2018
Saturday
Sounds like the pattering
Of bare feet
On a dusty concrete yard,

Smells of chimney smoke
And jagged coal heath,
Sheep-scent and
Wiry wool on a barbed fence,

Saturday
Is a jangly guitar
In a rickety truck
On a gravel road,

With a gravel voice
Rough as grit,
Deep as the caverns
Between the peaks,

Saturday
Is sunlight on an enamel ***,
A tin kettle
And its blood metal tea,

It is blackberry-bitten legs
and iodine streams,
A canopy of heady bracken
Below penny-marked trees,

Then Sunday,
Slantwise
Against the setting sun
Away again.
Paul Rousseau Aug 2012
Loose gravel come and it
Ride up your shirt and it
It can’t contend but it
It knows its worth and it
It can pretend and it
It can befriend but it
It knows its worth and it
It’s place on Earth and it
It’s velvet song
It won’t be long
Loose gravel come and it
It won’t belong
Olivia A Keaton May 2017
I wish it would
well rain harder
I wish that
the sky water would be salty
like my tears.
this way both could slide down my face unidentifiable
I wish the thunder was louder
just to help save me from my thoughts

I love how
well simply how
I'm walking to the beat,
crunching gravel to meet the sound
of my favorite song
even though it's no longer playing
I love that
the rain is blurring my vision
eventhough I couldn't see anyway
I love that with every step
I'm taking a shower
the rain provides me with good cleansing
I'm slowly scrubbing away every
remark, laugh, judge, scar and stain
and as my jeans, blouse, and shoes get wet,
I'm washing away some of this too
hidden deep within the seams

and yet some people wonder
why
why does she like the rain
well
It's not just rain
it's a friend
that I can talk to and actually leave with
a cleansed soul.
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
(poems from the Chinese translated by Arthur Waley)

Last night the clouds scattered away;
A thousand leagues, the same moonlight scene.
When dawn came, I dreamt I saw your face;
It must have been that you were thinking of me.
In my dream, I thought I held your hand
And asked you to tell me what your thoughts were.
And you said: ‘I miss you bitterly . . . “

As Helen drifted into sleep the source of that imagined voice in her last conscious moment was waking several hundred miles away. For so long now she was his first and only waking thought. He stretched his hand out to touch her side with his fingertips, not a touch more the lightest brush: he did not wish to wake her. But she was elsewhere. He was alone. His imagination had to bring her to him instead. Sometimes she was so vivid a thought, a presence more like, that he felt her body surround him, her hand stroke the back of his neck, her ******* fall and spread against his chest, her breath kiss his nose and cheek. He felt conscious he had yet to shave, conscious his rough face should not touch her delicate freckled complexion . . . but he was alone and his body ached for her.

It was always like this when they were apart, and particularly so when she was away from home and full to the brim with the variously rich activities and opportunities that made up her life. He knew she might think of him, but there was this feeling he was missing a part of her living he would never see or know. True, she would speak to him on the phone, but sadly he still longed to read her once bright descriptions that had in the past enabled him to enter her solo experiences in a way no image seemed to allow. But he had resolved to put such possible gifts to one side. So instead he would invent such descriptions himself: a good, if time-consuming compromise. He would give himself an hour at his desk; an hour, had he been with her, they might have spent in each other’s arms welcoming the day with such a love-making he could hardly bare to think about: it was always, always more wonderful than he could possibly have imagined.

He had been at a concert the previous evening. He’d taken the train to a nearby town and chosen to hear just one work in the second part. Before the interval there had been a strange confection of Bernstein, Vaughan-Williams and Saint-Saens. He had preferred to listen to *The Symphonie Fantastique
by Hector Berlioz. There was something a little special about attending a concert to hear a single work. You could properly prepare yourself for the experience and take away a clear memory of the music. He had read the score on the train journey, a journey across a once industrial and mining heartland that had become an abandoned wasteland: a river and canal running in tandem, a vast but empty marshalling yard, acres of water-filled gravel pits, factory and mill buildings standing empty and in decay. On this early evening of a thoroughly wet and cold June day he would lift his gaze to the window to observe this sad landscape shrouded in a grey mist tinted with mottled green.

Andrew often considered Berlioz a kind of fellow-traveller on his life’s journey of music. Berlioz too had been a guitarist in his teenage years and had been largely self-taught as a composer. He had been an innovator in his use of the orchestra and developed a body of work that closely mirrored the literature and political mores of his time.  The Symphonie Fantastique was the ultimate love letter: to the adorable Harriet Smithson, the Irish actress. Berlioz had seen her play Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (see above) and immediately imagined her as his muse and life’s partner. He wrote hundreds of letters to her before eventually meeting her to declare his love and admiration in person. A friend took her to hear the Symphonie after it had got about that this radical work was dedicated to her. She was appalled! But, when Berlioz wrote Lélio or The Return to Life, a kind of sequel to his Symphonie, she relented and agreed to meet him. They married in 1833 but parted after a tempestuous seven years. It had surprised Andrew to discover Lélio, about which, until quite recently, he had known nothing. The Berlioz scholar David Cairns had written fully and quite lovingly about the composition, but reading the synopsis in Wikipedia he began to understand it might be a trifle embarrassing to present in a concert.

The programme of Lélio describes the artist wakening from these dreams, musing on Shakespeare, his sad life, and not having a woman. He decides that if he can't put this unrequited love out of his head, he will immerse himself in music. He then leads an orchestra to a successful performance of one of his new compositions and the story ends peacefully.

Lélio consists of six musical pieces presented by an actor who stands on stage in front of a curtain concealing the orchestra. The actor's dramatic monologues explain the meaning of the music in the life of the artist. The work begins and ends with the idée fixe theme, linking Lélio to Symphonie fantastique.


Thoughts of the lovely Harriet brought him to thoughts of his own muse, far away. He had written so many letters to his muse, and now he wrote her little stories instead, often imagining moments in their still separate lives. He had written music for her and about her – a Quintet for piano and winds (after Mozart) based on a poem he’d written about a languorous summer afternoon beside a river in the Yorkshire Dales; a book of songs called Pleasing Myself (his first venture into setting his own words). Strangely enough he had read through those very songs just the other day. How they captured the onset of both his regard and his passion for her! He had written poetic words in her voice, and for her clear voice to sing:

As the light dies
I pace the field edge
to the square pond
enclosed, hedged and treed.
The water,
once revealed,
lies cold
in the still air.

At its bank,
solitary,
I let my thoughts of you
float on the surface.
And like two boats
moored abreast
at the season’s end,
our reflections merge
in one dark form.


His words he felt were true to the model of the Chinese poetry he had loved as a teenager, verse that had helped him fashion his fledgling thoughts in music.

And so it was that while she dined brightly with her team in a Devon country pub, he sat alone in a town hall in West Yorkshire listening to Berlioz’ autobiographical and unrequited work.

A young musician of extraordinary sensibility and abundant imagination, in the depths of despair because of hopeless love, has poisoned himself with *****. The drug is too feeble to **** him but plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by weird visions. His sensations, emotions, and memories, as they pass through his affected mind, are transformed into musical images and ideas. The beloved one herself becomes to him a melody, a recurrent theme [idée fixe] which haunts him continually.

Yes, he could identify with some of that. Reading Berlioz’ own programme note in the orchestral score he remembered the disabling effect of his first love, a slight girl with long hair tied with a simple white scarf. Then he thought of what he knew would be his last love, his only and forever love when he had talked to her, interrupting her concentration, in a college workshop. She had politely dealt with his innocent questions and then, looking at the clock told him she ‘had to get on’. It was only later – as he sat outside in the university gardens - that he realized the affect that brief encounter might have on him. It was as though in those brief minutes he knew nothing of her, but also everything he ever needed to know. Strange how the images of that meeting, the sound of her voice haunted him, would appear unbidden - until two months later a chance meeting in a corridor had jolted him into her presence again  . . . and for always he hoped.

After the music had finished he had remained in the auditorium as the rather slight audience took their leave. The resonance of the music seemed to be a still presence and he had there and then scanned back and forward through the music’s memory. The piece had cheered him, given him a little hope against the prevailing difficulties and problems of his own musical creativity, the long, often empty hours at his desk. He was in a quiet despair about his current work, about his current life if he was honest. He wondered at the way Berlioz’ musical material seemed of such a piece with its orchestration. The conception of the music itself was full of rough edges; it had none of that exemplary finish of a Beethoven symphony so finely chiseled to perfection.  Berlioz’ Symphonie contained inspired and trite elements side by side, bar beside bar. It missed that wholeness Beethoven achieved with his carefully honed and positioned harmonic structures, his relentless editing and rewriting. With Berlioz you reckoned he trusted himself to let what was in his imagination flow onto the page unhindered by technical issues. Andrew had experienced that occasionally, and looking at his past pieces, was often amazed that such music could be, and was, his alone.

Returning to his studio there was a brief text from his muse. He was tempted to phone her. But it was late and he thought she might already be asleep. He sat for a while and imagined her at dinner with the team, more relaxed now than previously. Tired from a long day of looking and talking and thinking and planning and imagining (herself in the near future), she had worn her almost vintage dress and the bright, bright smile with her diligent self-possessed manner. And taking it (the smile) into her hotel bedroom, closing the door on her public self, she had folded it carefully on the chair with her clothes - to be bright and bright for her colleagues at breakfast next day and beyond. She undressed and sitting on the bed in her pajamas imagined for a brief moment being folded in his arms, being gently kissed goodnight. Too tired to read, she brought herself to bed with a mental list of all the things she must and would do in the morning time and when she got home – and slept.

*They came and told me a messenger from Shang-chou
Had brought a letter, - a simple scroll from you!
Up from my pillow I suddenly sprang out of bed,
And threw on my clothes, all topsy-turvey.
I undid the knot and saw the letter within:
A single sheet with thirteen lines of writing.
At the top it told the sorrows of an exile’s heart;
At the bottom it described the pains of separation.
The sorrows and pains took up so much space
There was no room to talk about the weather!
The poems that begin and end Being Awake are translations by Arthur Waley  from One Hundred and Seventy Poems from the Chinese published in 1918.
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
Jai Rho Aug 2013
I never saw a peacock fly
before I saw one on my roof
and though I haven't seen
that many, I thought I
had seen enough

To speak with some authority
about the way that peacocks
travel, which as far as I knew,
always was on sand and gravel

Their regal nature and the beauty
of their plumes make them one of
nature's wonders, and whenever
I see one, I always stop and wonder

I guess that's why I thought
that peacocks just don't fly

They don't need to hurry,
and never seem to worry,
so they parade along
and let their admirers
marvel at all their splendor

So I was surprised to see
a peacock on my roof,
it surely didn't climb
and there was
no rope or ladder,
but then I heard wings
flapping just above my head
it was another peacock
who went to join his friend

I guess they liked the view
and I learned something new

That even though I would
surely fly, instead of walk,
stretching my legs to
strut my stuff
might be better
if I were a peacock
liz May 2018
all that my eyes can see are reflected
in crystal decanters on window sills
distorted and splintered by spheres
of the light, fading softly into greys
beyond the treeline and the horizon
meeting the earth with an embrace
slowly rolling hills of deep green moss
under roadways of gravel and tarmac
snaking swiftly into the dusky night

over in the corner there's a blanket
it belonged to her mother's mother
years of patches for every life lost
and gained in the birthing rooms
of antiseptic hospitals, quickly
remedied by the wrinkled hands
stained by tobacco and spices
that look rough to an outsider
but are gentler than any doctor's
friends' grandmothers in old cottage cellars
life nomadic Jul 2013
A tomboy, naturally barefoot, gingerly walks the white painted line because the asphalt is just too burning hot.  Scrubby tufts of weedy grass are welcome respites on the way, briefly cooling her steps even if they are stickery.  The ***** soles of her now calloused feet were intentionally toughened just before school got out, with mincing steps across the roughest gravel she could find.  Her mother accommodates her preference, leaving a pan of water outside for her to scrub her feet before going in.  Even then, a black path has gradually appeared leading from the front door in the old orangish carpet.  Two months of summer barefoot every day when she had the choice. Keyed roller skates clamped onto last year’s school shoes were the exception.  She can flat out run anywhere.
  
This particular expedition began like every other thing they did, which was anything to fend off boredom.  She had been sitting on a cement step shaded by an open carport, just three oil-stained parking stalls for three small apartments on the tired poor side of town.  There is a little more dirt on the street here, and grass is a little neglected.  Just like the children, but these kids prefer that anyway.  Two scruffy friends stomp on aluminum cans, brothers sporting matching buzz cuts and cut-off shorts.  They are flattening them for the recycling money by the pound, so the carport smells vaguely of stale beer.  Another boy attempts to shoot a wandering fly with a home-made rubber band gun; rings cut from a bicycle tube made the best ammo.  “What do you want to do?” …”I don’t know, what do you want to do?”  Thwack…  The only requisite for friendship here is vicinity, yet it is still true.  The idea of choosing friends is about as odd as the concept that one could chose where one lives... Strengths and shortcomings are completely accepted because it is just what it is.  

Their amazing three-story tree fort with a side look-out had been heartlessly taken down by the disgruntled property owner last week.  Two months of accumulating pilfered and scrap two-by-fours, nails, and even a stack of plywood (gasp!) from area construction sites had yielded supplies for a growing fort.  A gang-plank style entry had crossed the ditch to the first level.  Nailed ladder steps to the second offered a little more vertigo and a prime spot to hurl acorns.  Another ladder up led up to the third floor retreat, with a couch-like seating area and shoulder high walls.  A breeze reached the leaves up there.   The next tree over was the look-out, with nothing but ladder steps all the way up to where the view opened up out of the ravine.  When the wind blew, it gave merciless lessons in facing any fear of heights.  But now that was all over, discovered gone overnight.

Someone says again, “What do you want to do?” …”I don’t know, what do you want to do?”  “ 7-11? ”  Good enough, so they head out.   Distance measures time.  Ten minutes is the end of the street past the cracked basketball court in the church parking lot.  Fifteen minutes and the lawns end at the edge of the sub-division.  Half-built homes rising from bare dirt and scattered foundations could offer treasures of construction scraps, (where she suspects the stack of plywood came from.) but they keep walking.  Twenty minutes is where industry has scraped away nature, and railroad tracks form an elevated levee.  But time is meaningless if there’s a wealth of it, so there’s no going further until an informal ritual is completed.  Wordlessly they each dig around their pockets searching for equal amounts of pennies.  Each of them carefully arrange them lined up on the rounded-surface rail, and they settle in for the wait.  It could be five minutes or it could be thirty.  They all understand it’s a crap-shoot of patience waiting for the next train. It’s an unspoken test; quitting too early means losing your coins to the one who stays, so that’s not an option.

Heat presses down and the breezeless air smells like telephone-pole creosote.  She sits in a dusty patch of shade found next to an overgrown ****.  She knows it tastes like licorice and breaks off a stem to chew, but doesn’t know what it is.  The boys throw rocks randomly until she finally stands up to join in, tempted by the challenge of flight and distance.  Then she stands in the center of the tracks, looking one way then the other, searching for the first random distant glimmer of the engine’s light at the horizon.   A flash, so she places her ear to the metal Indian-style, and the imminent approach is confirmed.  She calls out, “its here!” and double checks her pennies’ alignment.  Heads up or tails, but always aligned so the building might be stretched tall or wide, or Lincoln’s face made broad or thin.  That happened only rarely, since it could only be rolled by one wheel then bounced off.  If it stuck longer, the next wheels would surely smash it into a thin, elliptical, smooth misshapen disc of shiny copper.  Its only value becomes validation of a hint of delinquency, Destroying-Government-Property.  Once she splurged with a quarter, which became smashed to just a gleaming silver, bent wafer discolored at the edge.  Curiosity wasn’t worth 25 cents again though, so she had only one of those in her collection.

The approaching engine silently builds impending size and power, so she dashes back down the rocky embankment to safety because after all, she is not a fool, tempting fate with stupid danger. She knows a couple of those fools, but she finds no thrill from that and is not impressed by them either.  Suddenly the train is here, generating astounding noise and wind, occasional wheels screaming protest on their axels.  She intently watches exactly where she placed her coins, hoping to see the moment they fly off the rails that are rhythmically bending under the weight rolling by.  It becomes another game of patience, with such a long line of cars, and she gives up counting them at 80-ish.  Then suddenly it is done and quickly the noise recedes back to heat and cicadas.  The rails are hot.  Diligently they search for the shiny wafers.  Slowly pacing each wood beam, they could have landed in the gravel, or pressed against the rail, or even lodged straight up against the square black wood yards down the tracks.  They find most of them, give up on the rest, then continue on.

She has thirty cents and at last they reach the afternoon’s destination.  7-11’s parking lot becomes a genuine game of “Lava”, burning blacktop encourages leaps from cooler white lines, to painted tire stops, to grass island oasis, then three hot steps across black lava to the sidewalk, and automatic doors swoosh open to air conditioning.  She rarely has enough money for a coke icey; she is here for the bottom shelf candy, a couple pennies or a nickel each.  Off flavors but sweet enough.  She remembered when her older brother was passing out lunchbags of candy to the neighborhood kids for free, practically littering the cul-de-sac.  She had wondered where he got enough money for all that popularity, or could he have saved that much from trick-or-treat? She wondered until he got busted shoplifting at the grocery store.  The security guard decreed that he was never allowed in there again, forever, and the disgrace of sitting on the curb waiting for the mortified ride home was enough to keep him from doing it again.

Today she picks out a few root beer barrels, some Tootsie-rolls (the smaller ones for two cents, not the large ones that divide into cubes) a candy necklace and tiny wax coke bottles, and of course a freeze-pop.   Sitting on the curb, she bites off small pieces of the freeze pop, careful not to get tooth-freeze or brain-freeze, until the last melty chunk is squeezed out the top of the thin plastic tube.

“What do you want to do now?” …”I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
DaSH the Hopeful Jul 2014
I wish I could give you this beautiful pain
   Its captivating to endure
        To watch it unfold inch by unbeatable inch


            Its long
    

            Makes you hard and callous
And makes you grovel in gravel begging for the end
     And it becomes a road
          A winding, twisting road that wraps around your throat

      A gorgeous asphyxiation blurs the smiles of the passengers in the cars on the asphalt
            
   And you blur into unreality
         The road ends

   The film in your head stops



And your left sitting unblinkingly...
Abstract Agony at its Finest
this morning
my brassiere
has made me
itch
its non natural fiber
is as rough
as a gravel ditch
Modern Serenity Sep 2014
The world is in a dead awkward silence
everyone looked at the aggressive brutality and cruel violence
They wondered to themselves how did they get here
without even realising there were people pulling their strings like a masquerade puppeteer

Can you imagine a world without anything but just broken gravel?
Living in fear of just catching nothing but just the common cold rattle
Growing up to learn the destroyed world and be nothing but just to grow old..
Change the time of you which you live in now
technology just complicates our lives and our true knowledge

Before everything just becomes nothing but bitterness and displease
will it then maybe shock you? And come ten times worst as respiratory disease
Don Bouchard Jan 2012
White-furred hill flowers bow
Gust-bent,
Wet in April snow,
Lavender beneath their
Downy coats.

Tender soldiers of spring
Grasp wind-blown gravel steeps,
Stand to beckon brown grass,
Soft-call the life in sapless trees
To ring with green again
Against Old Bully Winter’s
Blustering.

Quaking aspens,
Earliest to leaf in yellow-green,
Curling grama grasses,
Tough food for buffalo,
Cannot boast first life each Montana spring;
Only zombie-lichens,
Rock-fast mosses
Throw off winter’s death
Before the crocus' rise.

On eastern Montana hills
No street-hemmed dandelions
Colonize in chute-dropped ranks;
No time-tamed tulips
Live on wind-round knolls.

Here, the yucca’s bayonet-sharp ******;
Here, the wild onions’ scent-strong hold;
But these arrive after early chill,
Following the purple crocus on the hill.
Something I have been working on for over 20 years. Still not satisfied, as I cannot get the "life" on the prairies that I know needs to be present..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH2w9-Q-LRY has nice pictures of the crocus about which I am writing....
Brianne Rose Jun 2019
"Stay with me, please. You don't need to go!"
"You know I can't - "
" - Can't? or won't?"
"..."
"...fine,then leave. It's what you're best at after all."
"..."
A car door slams, an engine sputters to life, tires crunch over gravel, and red tail lights light up a lone man standing on his porch.
~
" - Please just - "
"I said no! You know I can't stay! Why?! Why do you always have to ask?!"
"Look at you! scars, fresh bruises, you flinch every time I raise my hand."
"..."
"Please, just - "
"Just. Stop. I can't"
"Can't? or..."
"..."
Again a car door slams, again an engine starts, and again tires crunch over gravel, and once more red tail lights shine upon a man standing on a porch.
~
"Please, please, stay with me! please! nonononono, don't close your eyes! STAY WITH ME"
"..."
"...please"
"...i'm..."
"please"
"...s-sorry..."
"no, please! please don't go...."
"..."
"please"
A pulse stops, a last breath has been breathed, lungs no longer struggling to keep functioning. A hand falls limp, gray eyes staring at a man on his porch, as red and blue lights bathe him and the still body laying there in his lap. He hears the sound of the sirens, ambulance and police vehicles alike as they pull up the drive.
It's too late
~
A car door shuts, tires crunch over gravel, and red tail lights shine upon a man dressed in all black standing at the gates of a graveyard.
He enters.
He pays his respects but before he leaves he swears he hears her voice,
"Please....stay - "
" - with me", he finishes softly, he turns to a headstone - marble per the request - and looks at the name carved on it.
"I can't, you know I can't", he then turns and walks away leaving the stone behind.
A figure appears in front of it and watches him leave,
"Can't...or...wont?"
There is no response.
~
Lilly Lunaeras
DOB: 1/1/96
DOD: 1/1/2018
"This star may have fallen, but it forever remains up in the heavens above.shining with all the other fallen stars"
random write i did a while back, figured i should get to posting my works again.
TheRhymeRenegade Feb 2018
do you recall
the crunch beneath our feet
a gesture small
as we ambled down the street
dirt and gravel
I felt pebbles through my shoe
I unravelled
When I looked at you

Where did you come from
Are you real?
Is this how I’m supposed to feel?
A dreamgirl
In a dreary place
I’ve counted every freckle on your face

Sunlight peaked through maple branches
in such a tranquil way
missed chances to make advances
I always hoped you'd stay
a fork in the road ahead
we went different directions
I used many different methods
to try and snag your attention
Where did you come from
Are you real?
Is this how I’m supposed to feel?
A dreamgirl
In a dreary place
I’ve counted every freckle on your face

you never seemed to notice
you just stared ahead
heart bloomed as if a lotus
while I tugged at a loose thread
sometimes I'd begin to speak
but choked upon my words
so I walked next to you without a peep
and together watched the birds

Where did you come from
Are you real?
Is this how I’m supposed to feel?
A dreamgirl
In a dreary place
I’ve counted every freckle on your face

it's odd and super subtle
the synchronicity
insignificant and pointless
yet means the world to me
quiet walks every afternoon
past the garage and dead leaves
we watched the starlings courtship
do you remember me?

Where did you come from
Are you real?
Is this how I’m supposed to feel?
A dreamgirl
In a dreary place
I’ve counted every freckle on your face
bulletcookie Aug 2018
Where footling trees do grow
nature, apologies need not know
vistas look back at you with eyes of snow
stones, high meadows, and silver timber knots

purple lupines and fire-**** that blush pink
held firm in gravel hands meet lichened erratics
where mountain's complexion in eon's blink
altered antonym of greens and browns chromatic

Where footling trees do grow
clouds shoot over passes round
to sprinkle, clap showers or to plow flows
marmots don down and burrow to ground

seeds and feathers take to their wing
branches' memories bend to storm's prowl
with constancy of change born on this wind
brutes in caverns and caves utter growls

Where footling trees do grow
a precipice of nascent springs leap
into; pine, spruce, ericaceous woodland below,
to gush as creeks, washout to river's slow keep

dappled light and streaming ray divides
fall forest floor with lulling murmur flutters
there bridge a span in wood knock strides
where clinging moss rolls bread and butter

-cec
I am from a broken home,
Though it never felt fractured
I am from smiling faces, and sad hearts.
I am from classical music and tough boys,
Always finding things to break
I am from loud people, stubborn with opinions.
I am from piles of autumn leaves,
Jumping in with little hands and little feet
I am from rivers full of living things, and rope swings.
I am from multiple houses,
Always filled with laughing children
I am from gravel roads, and one way streets.
I am from mud pies,
Made with love from little girls
I am of potions, made of grass and glitter.
I am from multiple siblings,
Though I am an only child
I am of the willow tree, healing and holy.
I am from the space between loving arms,
Where I ran when frightened
I am from gravel roads, and one way streets.
I am from a thicket of flowers,
From which my name comes
I am of cold morning air, brisk in my lungs.
I am of leaves and dirt,
still and motionless in time and memory
I am from no light, but the starry sky.
I am of dancing feet,
that belong to the people of the waters that never still
I am of the moon, dark and calm.
I am from towns filled with people,
But not one soul who knew me
I am from gravel roads, and one way streets.
I am from laughter and courage,
Things I always want with me
I am from quiet early morning conversations.
I am from love and happiness,
Friends who will never leave my side
I am of the stars, from which the constellation I was born.
I am from things that no longer make sense,
Though they never did
I am from a wooden castle.
I am from myself,
The person I want to be
I am from hidden passageways.
I am from cold nights and bonfires,
My aunt was always the fun one
I am from gravel roads, and one way streets.
I am from crystal and earth,
Coarse as the wind flows
I am from sacred towers.
I am from the sea,
Deep and always flowing
I am from nothing.
I am from sad things and shoe strings,
That intertwine as one
I am from the little things.
I am from brittle glass and scorched earth,
Once renewed are beautiful
I am from a dying tree.
I am from old towns,
No longer filled with people
I am from gravel roads and one way streets.
I am from closed doors,
Though new ones always open
I am from life itself.
I wrote this in a creative writing class but I love it.
Maybe
The falter of her step
Will trigger a
Mini tsunami.
But
There still is
The sound of gravel hitting stone
And
Brick upon brick;
Reconstruction
means
Beautiful noise, too.

She'll cause the world to
Stop and stare
Either way.
Joel A Doetsch May 2013
You slowly walk down the avenue of normality
Ignoring the side streets and oddly placed alleys

Change, you feel, is strange and unnerving
You stay straight and narrow, no veering or swerving

You look at us weirdos and our strange machinations
you speed up your pace with much trepidation

You're so busy keeping to the road that's more traveled
that you are completely unaware that it's turning to gravel

You're walking alone, and the road has all but decayed
the streets that you passed up, now bustling highways

Your fear of the odd and peculiar, the offbeat uncommon
has led you to become alone, forlorn, and unwanted

Everyone's different
Everyone's weird

Everyone has secrets that no one will hear

You wanted to be normal, and normal you are
now you're a minority, among the bizarre
Wait, you're completely normal?  ******.

— The End —