He raised the metal instrument
To break the large, obdurate stone,
Fused and beautifully congruent.
Downward he thrust, painful moan;
Object intractable, to say the least,
His ax couldn’t break the cemented beast.

With his sweat drenched head and brow,
He raised the instrument above his head;
His steadfast strength would not bow
He’ll beat this stone with hands shred.
Muscles flexed, he forced the ax down
Slicing the air, his barbaric yawp did soun’.

Nothing shifted and nothing moved,
Still it laid, this cruel, cemented beast;
He wiped sweat from forehead grooved,
From victors table, he would not feast.
The sun burned down upon his scorched back,
Exhaustion peaked, sleep he did severely lack.

Full body weight rested on the weary ax arm,
Years in this quarry were wearing him thin;
Yet, it wasn’t the rocks that caused him harm,
But ego’s keen control, deep from within.
Sweat beaded on his brow once more,
This mundane task, dogmatically bore.

His face contorted in a painful sneer,
This burden his and only he could win;
His skin taut across ribs, a mere veneer
For his spirit cloaked, Pride’s near kin.
He shifted his weight from left to right
And gripped the heavy instrument tight.

Breath held, he wield the ax through the air,
Both arms craned, in a weird, awkward stretch;
With every fiber of his being, he paused there…
Then one violent movement, to peace a stench,
He threw the ax forward still holding the wooden end
The blade crashed against the stone, unwilling to bend.

His hands released the wretched instrument,
Not of will but from impact an’ vicious friction.
The handle split, and metal head broke atonement—
He was suddenly aware of this ironic sudden action—
His fingers left in a nature’s smooth, relaxed reaching pose,
His eyes trailed toward the wooden fragments still, froze’.

The sun was wickedly relentless at that climatic hour;
Each ray beat down upon his weakened frame,
Man rent useless to fate’s cruel and sublime humor.
This mere stone or act of breaking it, he could not tame.
He hated that sun more and more with each minute passing,
It illuminated his err, highlighted his nicked pride, amassing.

The dull and monotone quarry walls did mock him,
They cried out, laughed; he despised their presence.
His eyes scanned the area from base to quarry rim,
He felt escaping what he claimed….his very essence.
No relief was insight and this job was his to do alone,
With every aching muscle, every twisted joint and bone.

(to be continued…)

–lre larkin (2004/2005); inspired by Article XVII of The 39 Articles.