Salt Mine

I am the pointlessness that sunk this mine.
The shaft is lightless and reeks of my flayed liver.
Others shuffle through. Daily we stand up together
in the wince-light of a projector’s Cyclopean glare.

My willingness fattens a bad future.
Sixteen years of digging holes put
miles of darkness between me and what could have been.
No more philosophy or Friday evening swims, just
tunnels and rotting canaries with my name.

Red or green carts carry my effort to the surface.
The Man’s pork is salted with my haul;
empty carts descend back to me forever.
The storyboard here has a circular plot.
I count my few grains by feel, like a mole.

My fellow laborers –
I fear we will never make it out!
The clever system dispenses random rewards and
a starving man will stab you for a single blackberry.
Oh, we’ll keep digging as long as there are bills.

Anxiety brings on the cigarettes,
the sharded-glass throat ache.
I gargle with saltwater and choke on the irony.
The carts were built for their track.
Like them, I keep going back.

The corporate samovar drips payday sacrament
to dull the pain of a dulling mind.
Pickaxes clang, bang & proclaim
the non-stop juggernaut.
Diamonds may glitter, but not down here.

I know a miner turned mystic; she followed UP to OUT.
Are we so different?
My mandalas of dirt and canary bones,
surely they sing!
They are the dirge of an endless Monday.

The light of the mind is where I want to live.
I’ve been there before, in that explosion-bright.
Instead, I forfeit myself.
Indentured, mortgaged, suburbed –
My dumb hands dream of the shovel.

My soul and body
wage schizophrenic war in this 9 to 5 cell.
The carts go in,
the carts go out –
salt in my wounds.

February, 2016

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