Transparent Words - Poetry


Gary Blankenship


Song of Myself #11 - Printer

Song of Myself #12 - Limbs



Song of Myself #11 – Printer


11.  The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,


I’ve no sooner set the pages

for the week’s edition

than the editor brings changes

to his opinion piece –

another abolitionist screed,

when God’s word declares

perpetual bondage for Ham and his progeny,

though in these end times,

who can tell who’s really free –

the apprentice bound

to work off his father’s debt,

darkie children sold down the river,

or a printer who barely has enough

for a pint after his family fed.


Tonight, perhaps the Brotherhood

will agree a work slowdown,

even stoppage, is our only choice.


One thing is certain under God’s sun,

I’ll not raise my boy to be a wage slave.

He’ll be book-educated –

reverend, barrister, shopkeeper –

perhaps to become a editor,

even publisher, with property,

colored servants of his own

and better sight than his pa.



Song of Myself #12:  Limbs


12.  The malformed limbs are tied to the anatomist’s table


They came home

the farmer from Antietam

merchant from Shilo

drover from the Wilderness

with no hand

one arm

one leg

or none

(those that came home)


captured by wagon


crutch and cane

pirate’s hook and pegleg

the nightmares of a burning forest


They came home

the marine from Basrah

combat engineer from Samarra

mp from Ramadi

with no hand

one arm

one leg

or none


flesh replaced with steel



formed to look, move and feel real

until you touch the hard, cold skin


The nightmares are the same

malformed limbs dropped in fiery sand

only the location

and pretext different







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