by Joe Conard


calcium chips floating on the river

little snowstorms clouding the water

the digging equipment folds out

onto the dock, where many workers wait

little else to do until the great machine finishes.


With a tug, it pulls its hollow arm

from underneath the riverbed

and back into its chilly heart, sated.

“All Aboard” calls the foreman callously

the men  descend through the pipes

for another day, held in place by a Titan’s foot of pressure


the safety light roams the surface like a stinger-less bee

no purpose as everyone crawls in early tombs

a local mass grave already erected to their sacrifice.

Below, the gaslight

and the sand, and the penetrating mist rises

with cocky excitement, like nitrogen in the blood

to hit the water, rushing on all sides.


ton by ton, hour by hour, the earth obeys

bringing itself to the surface

reluctant children leaving a party

each cart chaperoned

by a black ghost in a hard hat.


it’s a psychosis that makes men perform miracles

the reckless servitude of the poor and the young

re-shape the earth in dreams

only the lowly tread through hell to make the dreams of others

only the lowly replace themselves with earth on the surface

and forget their face

beneath the water.


This poem first appeared in Loch Raven Review


Joe Conard lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he pursues his passion for poetry, archery and all things beautiful and Zen.

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