October 2013

Getting in the Wood


by Gary Snyder

The sour smell,

blue stain,

water squirts out round the wedge,

Lifting quarters of rounds

covered with ants

a living glove of ants upon my hand”

the poll of the sledge a bit peened over

so the wedge springs off and tumbles

ringing like high-pitched bells

into the complex duff of twigs

poison oak, bark, sawdust,

shards of logs,

And the sweat drips down.

Smell of crushed ants.

The lean and heave on the peavey

that breaks free the last of a bucked

three-foot round,

it lies flat on smashed oaklings–

Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,

little axe, canteen, piggyback can

of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,

knapsack of files and goggles and rags,

All to gather the dead and the down.

the young men throw splits on the piles

bodies hardening, learning the pace

and the smell of tools from this delve

in the winter

death-topple of elderly oak.

Four cords.



From the Gary Snyder Reader Vol. II, Counterpoint Press




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