Author Joseph Heywood
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Wood Splitters
[Baldwin, MI. Mother's Day 2001]

Forward is backward,
backward forward,
like forward is down &
backward up in a plane, my only job
to keep the formula straight
as we disembowel & shatter
hundred-pound oak rounds
still so green          
we can feel them clutch life
 in their sappy knots.

The splitter is home-made, fifteen years
ago, a clinky-clanky hydraulic ripper-stripper
driven by a five-horse lawnmower engine.
and hydraulic arm the length of a Lambreta.
It begs a lube, balking sometimes
as it clatters to catch its breath, burping to
clear an airway before it resumes work.

We argue all day about terminology,
ricks versus ranks
as cluttered ground becomes a neat pile
the height of Wilt the Stilt and three times
as long.

I find the work mindless, turn myself into
and astronaut using delicate jet puffs to
maneuver things around in space
outside the lab. Occasionally a log splits with a sharp pop, throws
remains into space and
I remember gravity is in our favor here,
we can fetch them where they lie, avoid having
to plot a mission
in higher math toward the moon
or worry about reentry
& sundry techie crapaloids.

In those moments
when my mind comes back to earth,
I think not of wood,
but of Hendricksons
and maybe tonight we catch a spinnerfall.

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