Limestone gets smashed and crushed down to make cement. Chain-gang prison sentence. The men wipe the sweat from their brow, working in rhythm. It’s all you can do but not look too far ahead when you have a life-sentence. And even though these men have been condemned, I do still believe there to be song in their hearts, which is why they sing, and hit the rocks like they mean it. It is a meditative flow state out of necessity. Because they would go crazy otherwise. And who’s to say they haven’t already gone? Each man winces as the sledgehammer comes down, as the pick-ax falls. They think back to when they were young children and how they never thought they’d end up here in this moment. And in this chain-gang collective unconscious every downward stroke becomes a thought they destroy: Child’s birthday’s missed, romantic relationships in tatters, their own fateful mistakes that got them here – whether their own fault or the fault of an unjust criminal justice system. Key word being system. Was it the cop who profiled them? Was it the jury who profiled them? Was it the lawyer who has seen too many disastrous cases, or perhaps fearful of ruining his record that urges these men to take plea deals, profiling them, anticipating the profiling of them? And so these men destroy these thoughts as they smash the limestone, hoping to never hear from them again. But they will. In sleepless nights of adrenaline sickness, during sick nights of adrenaline dreams, where they are running – from what they don’t know – and then wake up in pools of cool sweat to then notice bars or dappled moonbeams peeking through corrugated windows, disappointed they have awoken because for a moment, that unknown moment, there was a taste of what it was like to be free. There is an unspoken vow to willingly destroy one’s body in this process. To hit even though you can’t feel your hands, to pummel these rocks to dust even though your muscles are crying out, even though quitting sounds like a long cool drink in the hot sun. There is a war of wills between these men and the guards. And these men must never waver. The guards do look on, loosely fingering the bottom lip of the triggers of the guns in their holster, waiting for any sudden moves. Glancing at their brethren in watchtowers above.

Author: Roe

30. she/her. Songwriter & Trek Punk Soul™.

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