Samiya Bashir is the author of three collections of poetry including Field Theories (Nightboat Books, 2017). She teaches at Reed College and lives in Portland, Oregon.
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John Henry crosses the threshold—
Everyone up here called me crazy but
I couldn’t do nothing but what seemed right.
Crazy to fight—maybe—maybe crazy
enough to win. Every day I crouch down
into that bend I know I might not creep
out again. Tunnels eat men like penance—
like payment for letting us through I knew
my life would be short would be fast but each
shaft of light that snuck through the cracks I smacked
in them walls kept me going and led me
right back—swinging—up this yap and folks thought
I was crazy try’n’a dream us up a
future even if I couldn’t see it
through all that dust those sudden
shouts and screams.