Oct/Nov 2018 Poetry

Two Poems

by Jeff Burt

Public domain image adapted by Tom Dooley


How quickly the old shed demolishes
and the new one rises, simple planks
set with six nails into four by fours
on a bed of gravel snug enough
no pest can enter, then sidings lashed
with angled screws sunk into the core
and two by fours erected
without a purple line of plumb
not quite to the height of my head,
a truss of seven boards held
easily to reach the frame and over,
and in three hours the skeleton
of resurrection formed.

The rest may take me days,
and an uneven pace at best—
sadness intervenes
at each step of reinforcement
and completion of the walls,
paint, asphalt strips on the roof,
caulk and glue dots everywhere.

I wish I had more time to enjoy
the unfinished product, frame
naked, the act of building displayed,
all verb, the in-process image
of working, vibrant, active.
I like to say I'm building.
I like to say I'm doing
much more than I am done.


John Wild

We came to consider the bull's transportation,
         but by first sight knew how stuck a dead thing is.
He died in bramble, entrenched
         in swamp, sumac hovering over briar
and pines set left and right
         and straight ahead preventing a tractor
or backhoe from admission, a natural jail.

We could not drag him, and, ornery in death
         as in life, he would not sink.
We took straight shovels first
         and marked a plot two feet beyond his frame
and made room to bury his legs and head,
         and after lunch would come the digging
for the monstrous bloating torso.

John said this was not the work Tom Sawyer
         could pawn. To bury a bull by shovel-full
is lonely work, and we half-delivered on our obligation.
         The yawning hold yet half-completed, the bull slid,
and fighting water and slippery mud, we had to bury
         him by mounding up, tamping the mud first
with the backs of shovels and then our joyless boots.

John laughed and said the skunks and wild pigs
         would destroy the mound in days
or else the bacteria gas would blow a hole
         like Mount St. Helens.
One whole day, he sighed, as I rinsed off.
         One whole day for a mean-spirited bull.
How many days to bury us?


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