Tag Archives: firewood

ODE TO MANZANITA

 

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                             …he fed the young flame with wisps of dry grass
                             and with the tiniest dry twigs.

                                           – Jack London (“To Build a Fire”)

A fair piece from the Yukon,
Jack—nothing warms cold bones
like a good fire. We, too, need

a flame to feed a woodstove
oak, the standing dead and fallen
to adversity and time,

and start with broken posts:
split coastal redwood pencil-thin
into a chimney teepee thatch

on crumpled newsprint
before the match leaps to catch
a hungry blaze, inside

shadows dance and touch,
begging brittle Manzanita’s
hard red heart that dulls a chain,

severed limbs of lichened skeletons
wait to burn hot and easily
to prepare the seed, lick the oak

with fire. And glowing early
morning coals banked in ash
start Manzanita sticks a flash.

 

BLACK SKIES

 

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Dark morning without moon or stars
before the first winter storm, the day before
Black Friday rains deals and discounts

for Christmas, for our economy and I am
ever thankful that the bulls are out early
courting cows, meeting kids and family

before dirt roads get too slick to travel—
ever thankful for the drought that felled
two big Live Oaks on the gate and fence

we corded-up and stacked beneath the eave
before the girls drove posts and spliced
the barbed wire on a mat of green

to leave the mess looking like a park—ever
thankful for them, for you and this ground
we’re invested in together, for good horses

willing to get the cow work done—
black skies without moon or stars,
you and I alone before the storm.

 

BLUE OAK

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A man builds a house around a fire,
rocks and hearth upon the earth—
cuts wood to feed it, to stand close

to the flame when cold to the bone—
a luxury: he gets in touch
with the basics, with the tree.

Sometimes he says a little prayer
for the century felled or fallen,
or nods to hardwood cores intact

all his long life, stacking brush
for quail, cleaning up for grass
and cattle, like we’ve never been here.

 

FIREKEEPER

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She knows her wood
and how long it will last—
loves Blue Oak coals
and the Live Oak with little ash.

Redwood splinters for an ember,
Manzanita for heat and flame,
she keeps a never-ending fire
three months warm each year.