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Grays Best

Thursday was for Poetry Print E-mail

by John K. Ottley
from the February/March 2008 issue

Thursday was for poetry
until the forecast turned from gray to orange.
There is firewood to be sawed and split
and I don’t have to do that anymore
on rainy days.

The alarm winks at my dreams
then beeps until my wife’s elbow
ends the snoring.

The big truck roars to life
anxious to be on the road
like a hunting dog will slam
against his kennel gate
and yowl in anticipation
when he hears men placing
slender brown shotgun cases
in the backseat.

Gas and a golden chicken biscuit
sloshed down with chai latte:
one of the 20 coffee options at the Quick Trip
where men who work with their hands
grab breakfast to go at 5:30 A.M.
long before red neon “Open” signs
flicker on at Starbucks and Silver Skillet.
On the freeway, the sun rising behind a cloudbank
makes the sky look as if Sherman
again has set fire to Atlanta.

The woods are quiet as a graveyard.
The great oak, splayed and splintered
like a sailing vessel foundered on a reef,
leans against other trees:
brave firemen who linked arms
to cushion its fall.

Like a primitive surgeon,
my chainsaw severs limbs.
Large sections thump onto brown leaves.
Into the uprighted stumps,
hungry, sharp-edged steel wedges
start cracks, widening,
until they split through.
Halves part
like a grizzly-gutted salmon.

The sections heaved into my truck
call to mind cannon shells hurried
to resupply the forward firing batteries

I stack the logs in deer camp.
Pines lining the road
serve as bookends,
woods handy to the rock campfire circle.

This increases the future worth of our portfolio.
Turkey season opens in a month.
We will warm our backsides as well as our hearts,
flames feeding our hunger for fellowship;
a yearning every bit as needy
as the poetry
that might have been written on Thursday.

by John K. Ottley Jr.
 
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