Travis Byram

Cupboard cubes crowd crumbling earth, children
in their Sunday dress leap off creaking stairs to
look at their new landscape—a dirtdrowned playground. 
Their father comes home, coal-black, and with
each hug they suck in puffs of unsuitable soot. Their
mother tells them this is home now. Home—where
files of ruined, dust-drenched shirts and tattered
trousers shuffle to The Mine, five days in a row.  
The children toss coal clumps, predicting how many
fragments one seemingly solid rock
can be divided into.

Author's Commentary: For an internship as a poetry writer in my college's Natural History & Archaeology Collections Project, I responded to various late 19th and early 20th century lantern slides, which frequently depicted working class American life. I wrote poems about cotton gins, donkeys carrying orange crates, and two miserable looking children standing next to a shoddy home with enormous mining equipment in the background, via There Will Be Blood. Instead of the equipment, I focused on the kids, what their emotions to this surrounding might be, and structured the poem to resemble a coal lump to show the condensed, monotonous atmosphere they might be living in. 

Growing up on the mean streets of Fredericksburg, Virginia (read: modest and antique shop-laden streets), Travis Byram grew up as an only child with a single mother. He is an avid lover of film, a writer, and combines those passions for a movie blog, titoito.blogspot.com, that he runs on the side, which won the 2012 Free Lance-Star Creative Multimedia Contest.