This is a picture of a mine. The protagonist in my poem gives up being an artist to work in one.

After failing as an artist 

(a synonym for unemployed), 

I worked in a mine in rural 

America. Not much in those 

badlands, except weeds the

colour of my skin, jingoists  

who loved guns, and  

Confederate flags. There  

were some good people  

like the ones who left me  

alone as I hewed stone — 

The greys and golden browns 

carrying me away from  

syllables and sentences,  

images and abstractions.  

Some hated me,  

calling me an  

Islamist, or asking me to 

go back to my camels,  

being the sand-nigger, I was.  

But I hewed and hewed,  

the greys and browns  

becoming an extension,  

a massive limb that swallowed 

up my dreams and delusions,  

peeling off the tainted 

wallpaper with its stars,  

minotaurs, beatific visions  

and self-aggrandising etchings. 

I didn’t frequent the one bar in  

town, or own an internet connection, 

I hewed and hewed — 

The greys enveloping me like  

sweet silence, the browns burning  

away lyrical cadences,  

and returning home,  

sat on a moth-eaten couch,  

pushing away some madness  

beseeching me to become a  

brown Philip Levine, praying to  

the greys and golden browns to  

carry me into a dreamless sleep — 

monochrome and insentient.  

For earthweal

Photo by Nick Nice on Unsplash

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Tanmay Philip
August 13, 2022 5:39 pm

We can all use a break from the muse sometimes, especially when things go really crazy, though not all choose hard labour (and asceticism?) like the narrator did here, even if it was metaphorical. Great poem!

Sherry Marr
Sherry Marr
August 13, 2022 9:11 pm

Working in a mine must be one of the harder ways to survive, especially when one is verbally abused while doing so. Your poem takes the reader into the experience. So well expressed. I apologize on behalf of those humans who arent aware enough to apologize themselves. Sigh.

August 14, 2022 12:13 am

You use colours very effectively to convey the desolation of being an outsider in a back breaking job.
Impressive write.

August 15, 2022 11:38 pm
Reply to  Nitin Lalit

You are welcome.

Dawn Pisturino
August 14, 2022 1:28 am

A very raw poem that rings of truth. I’m sorry for your terrible experience!

Rajani Radhakrishnan
August 14, 2022 6:37 pm

a massive limb that swallowed
up my dreams and delusions.. fine writing. Enjoyed this poem.

August 14, 2022 6:43 pm

So much great art has been produced in alienation and isolation–you put us inside the skin of your narrator,make us feels the blows he himself takes, as well as the ones whose strikes move colors into form, and shape him as well as his work. My pleasure to read this skillful and intelligent piece this morning.

phillip woodruff
August 14, 2022 9:01 pm

i’m so sorry this happened to you, perhaps even continues to happen. lately i haven’t been very proud of my country, for exactly this reason. but you’re right, all of this is what makes an artist. endure untill we thrive, that’s all we can do.

phillip woodruff
August 16, 2022 6:36 am
Reply to  Nitin Lalit

it does happen a lot, i see it, experience it more and more everyday, not really directed at me, but i feel surrounded by all the time these days

August 14, 2022 11:09 pm

The arts, creating, observing, enjoying, are what enhance the human experience of life. Why is it that most artists have to struggle to get by. The lack of appreciation by the masses show what an unhealthy spiritual place we find ourselves in. I also like the use of color in here to reflect mood. Nicely done, Nitin.

August 15, 2022 5:29 am

Art is often created from life’s experiences and unfortunately the rude behavior of others. I could feel the pain of the narrator. I like how you have woven in the expression of color.

August 15, 2022 6:17 pm

One can never be a failed artist. An artist is special.An artist has an enriched life …something that will never be experience by brutes

August 16, 2022 7:11 am

A powerful poem, Nitin. Like all good fiction, it creates its own reality…JIM

August 17, 2022 5:03 pm

Of course for me Appalachia comes to mind. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled I-80…and there’s a little town called Tamaqua. Your work brings it to mind. The most painful part of the piece is to feel the cut of bigotry.

August 22, 2022 5:01 pm
Reply to  Nitin Lalit

Hey…I can’t comment on you, either. I was able to approve your comment on my last post. Thanks! 🙂

August 17, 2022 6:34 pm

This is strong and very moving . 💕

Sunra Rainz
August 21, 2022 1:07 pm

I really felt his poem, I loved all its nuances. And the first two lines made me chuckle!

Sunra Rainz
August 23, 2022 4:32 pm
Reply to  Nitin Lalit

It’s hard not to, I’ve been there! 🙂 You’re welcome.

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