Skip to Content

Hammering on Rocks

By Joseph Ross

Hammering  on rocks 
can  break  the  hammerer's  back

when  stooped
under  the  weight  of  identity

cards  the  color  of  scorn.
But  somehow  you  knew

that  the  earth's  breath
drew  in  and  out

with  the  same  rhythm
as  your  own.

Somehow  you  also  knew
the  rocks  you  cracked

into  two  decades'  dust
were  watering  the  country

who  sat  silently  in  your  cell,
more  a  prisoner  than  you.

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  From "Gospel of Dust" (Main Street Rag, 2013). Used with permission.
Joseph Ross
Photo by Ted Schroll.

Joseph Ross is the author of three books of poetry: Ache (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), Gospel of Dust (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2013) and Meeting Bone Man (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2012). His poems appear in many publications including, The Los Angeles Times, Poet Lore, Xavier Review, The Southern Quarterly and Drumvoices Revue. He has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and won the 2012 Pratt Library / Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize. In 2014-15, he served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society in Howard County, Maryland. His poem, “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God” won the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and writes regularly at his website.

Other poems by this author