A Poem by Carl Terrence

When I Chop Wood
by Carl Terrence

When I chop wood
I get the axe blade good and oiled up with baby oil and then look at my reflection awhile on the shiny axe head.

When I chop wood
I think in cords. Like that truck is about 4 cords. That cloud up there is probably 9. My leg is like 1/8th.

When I chop wood
The blisters on my hands pop, finally, and whiskey comes out and I suck on ‘em.

When I chop wood
My beard grows faster. When I’m done I shave off my 2 foot beard with an oily axe blade while looking in a puddle.

When I chop wood
Forest animals come out and sing a song in perfect rhythm to my chops. They sing a song called, “Man a Choppin’, Man a Choppin’”

When I chop wood
I build great stacks of chopped wood. Art scenes I guess. The scent overcomes the neighborhood and they open their windows to get some chopped wood inside.

When I chop wood
Blood comes out of the tree stump and floods over the grass and onto my boots and I stand hacking in blood up to my laces.

When I chop wood
They close down the farmer’s market and the singer / song writer of the week comes to listen to my song.

When I chop wood
I’m doing a godamn service to mankind so don’t go chattering to me about whats for dinner or whatever.

When I chop wood
I sometimes start chopping other things too. I chopped some floors and some ladders once. If it’s made of wood then I’ll chop it. All I see is wood. And chopping.

When I chop wood
I feel like people in the 1800′s did when they were working. I don’t need clean water or a car. I just need this godamn wood chopped.

When I chop wood
The neighborhood kids gather ’round and say, “I’m gonna chop me some wood one day.” I look up say, “Not like this you won’t.”

When I chop wood
I go over to a boulder when my axe blade gets dull and I rub it on the boulder and get it so sharp that it could cut another couple dozen cords. 7 cords.

When I chop wood
I don’t even bother getting up unless there’s about 10 cords needed. That’s about 10 long beds full. You’re truck will probably break down before I’m done cuttin’. Then I’ll cut your godamn truck up with an axe and get back to my wood choppin’.

When I chop wood
I get real mad and pretend the wood is my old day job. I pretend I’m cutting up my old jobs and then I just start hacking and soon there’s nothing but kindlin’ and just wood dust flying up in the sun rays and on my face.

When I chop wood
It’s like going to church or taking a shower or maybe driving. All the good ideas come when I get to choppin’ and then I know I should be rich because I was the one who thought of the steak sandwich anyhow.

When I chop wood
I think about writing down all the things that happen in my life every day, like when I got in a fist fight inside the Bank of America, but more like a reflection or a memoir or a story on cable starring Sam Elliot when he too, has to chop wood.

When I chop wood
There’s no one better. There’s just no one out there who can chop more wood than me. I mean no one and I welcome all challengers.

A Poem from Joshua McDermott

The Snow
by Joshua McDermott

Before things got difficult for my family,
I complained one Christmas morning
when I didn’t get the toy I wanted.
My mother had actually bought it for me,
but she hid it in the closet
to see how I’d react.

Later, when there were no toys,
when there wasn’t even a closet,
when my mother had died,
the snow on the ground outside
was enough.

Joshua Lew McDermott is a 23 year old poet from Idaho. He sometimes lives in Logan, Utah, where he organizes readings and independently publishes his friends’ work. He has two cats, reads a lot of anarchistic books, and likes to go hiking. “

A poem from Oswald James

“So, this place was a morgue?”
by Oswald James

the singer said to silence
it was true
we heard this place was a funeral home
before a bar
earlier in the night
by a fire

the locals seemed offended

Lara had taken up w/ some drifter
a table over
her man,
remarkably patient
bought her another

the band,
all tall and pale
were deep into the desert
and sounded like death
it was the last night of tour

I sat there feeling like a dried out yucca bloom
with a throat full of agave
every eye in the room
gazed upon the goddess on bass
until she stared back
and moved the place to envy or lust

under the icy stars
we rode out with the tumbling weeds
and wondered, “what next?”

Oswald James owns and operates Alta Real Pictures, a film/video production company based in Austin, TX

A Poem by Dennis Held

Air, Conditioned
by Dennis Held

I am dry, I am droll
And that’s just how I roll:
Call me Billy.

I’m not mad, I’m not bleak
I’ve a Frenchman’s physique,
I’m not silly.

I like gin, I like jazz
You can take what I has–
That’s just me.

You won’t mind what I write
And if it’s patently trite,
We’ll agree.

I can toss this stuff off
I don’t work for no boss
I am poemy.

And if you pay my fee
My verse isn’t free:
Nor me.

Dennis lived in Missoula, Montana for five years and was awarded the MFA in poetry writing. Taught writing, editing and literature at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, from 1994 until 2001. Betting on the Night, a collection of poetry, was published in 2001 with Lost Horse Press, and was reprinted in 2003. Now living in Spokane, Washington, he teaches writing at Eastern Washington University. His second book of poetry, Ourself, was published in January 2011 by Gribble Press. He continues to publish essays, book reviews, and articles in magazines and for public radio.

A Poem by Dirk Michener

Untitled (Horse and a Cow)
by Dirk Michener

A horse and a cow
Stand still in a
Large field

They stand for a long
Time and sometimes
Move their heads
Up and down or
Side to side

After a while
They lie down and
Go to sleep

The horse and cow
Sleep from sunset
To sunrise and wake

They each walk to
A separate part of
A large stock tank
And drink water

They drink water for
Several minutes then
Urinate and shit

The horse and cow
Mill around
And chew at clumps
Of grass and plants
On the ground

Horse stands under a
Tree and swings its
Long tail

Cow stands by a fence
Looking at other cows
And sometimes shakes
Its head around
And chews.