Axe Heads


dedicated to Gary Snyder


The branch broke off weeks ago,

in lightning, wind, and thunder.

I pulled it out of the road with the help

of an old Boy Scout hatchet.

I could only cut the smallest parts.

It is still in the yard,

a foot thick at its widest.

Across the highway,

they have already repaired

the billboard torn in two.

The cars can move:

no hazard.

Still, it is in the yard.

Chainsaws scare me, and

there is no crosscut in the house.

I’ve and old axe head,

the handle broken and gone

many houses ago.

It has been sitting there

on my kitchen table for a week.

Axe handle . . . . “Axe Handles”,

didn’t somebody write a poem?

It’s on the shelf, and autographed

over a decade ago.

I read it again this morning.

A thousand years plus

of axe handles . . . . and axes.

The limb still needs to be moved.

Write a note for a handle,

right after “stamps”.

Paper in pocket for things today.

Barter some paper

trade some work for

moving things around.

I wrote the note on the back

of a daily calendar sheet.

Axe heads were trade items

once upon a time.

The Iceman had a copper one

as the snows fell and the glacier

weighted him down.

He was walking that pass,

a path between neolithic and bronze.

I’ve a chert hand axe found

in a tool workshop outside

of Jhelum over a quarter century ago.

Neither one will move

the branch in my yard.

Sun is coming up hot

again tomorrow.  In cool

evening light I can meld

wood to iron: wedge tight.

It takes time to make a good tool.

Dawn is cool for chopping.

As woodchips fly,

the world shapes slowly,

and some days it seems

people are shaped slowest

of all.


first posted on, 2015, taken from “Some Notes on 21st Century Sorcery”.

About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

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