Handling Destiny: Tools of the Trade

By Adrian Castro Adrian Castro
They make such uncomfortable clank
child of earth
child of fire
These are your tools of the trade
difficult when you use them

A large trunk with children darting
in all directions
appears slippery in its sheen
adorned with thorns

There comes a day in a man's life
when the machete he was given early on
can cut into small inheritances
place them in a large calabash
set them aflame
spill the ashes behind him
to cover his old footsteps
the one's he stepped over & over
trodden tongue lashing
the atlas of littered women
over & over every few years

Remember at the end of seven days
a gift of hoe & machete
used at times by your grandfather
then again by his son
At the end of the seven days
remember the whipping song
as you with machete & hoe in hand
wrote on the earth diagrams
signatures that would sprout shelter
words won't lead you to obstacle's house

when she had a dimpled hammock on each thigh
marks from birth from years lying
diagrams written on her history

Adrian Castro, "Handling Destiny: Tools of the Trade" from Handling Destiny. Copyright © 2009 by Adrian Castro.  Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press. www.coffeehouse.org

Source: Handling Destiny (Coffee House Press, 2009)

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Poet Adrian Castro

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

 Adrian  Castro


Poet, writer, and artist Adrian Castro was born in Miami, Florida. His work combines Afro-Caribbean myths, history, and rhythms to explore Afro-Caribbean–American identity. He is the author of three collections of poetry: Cantos to Blood & Honey (1997), Wise Fish: Tales in 6/8 Time (2005), and Handling Destiny (2009). The New York Times has praised Castro’s poetry as “a serious and seriously enjoyable contribution to our . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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