Distant Jam

Log Jam

<>

water frozen

are logs jammed 

like iron fists

like parts of one

like time

<>

one spar digging

blunting steely hook on ice,

chipping away tiny sparks

flying large through the air;

landing to rejoin

only a few feet away

<>

we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill blade is hungry

the sun longs to be set free

<>

two spars, now three;

the mean awakened from

thick jointed dreams;

steam plotted revenge,

now a thousand all chipping

clattering in the league air,

each salty bead of sweat

freezing into thicker traps

<>

one, free, now two,

no hope for the others, yet;

the clear rive water

lapping blood

into fresh gashes;

three free, now four,

No more. No more!

<>

one spar stuck

one boot-hold lost

one boot-filler lost,

slipped into the ice

as repayment;

face up-turned

tugged

tossed under the shell

<>

we must move the logs

we must move them downstream

the mill bade is hungry

the corpse longs to be set free

Jan 72

I wanted this piece to be stuck in the middle of the collection. It’s another one with a strong narrative line, easy to understand even without the subtext of being trapped under the ice of a life one didn’t expect to be frozen into. It’s also another piece of testosterone driven masculinity. The return of ‘the muscle-rippled holder of that chainsaw’ only now he’s dealing with the results of his labours.

No, I have never been a lumberjack – nor have I moved logs down stream. I didn’t do any research on log jams for this, nor did I study things trapped in the ice. So I’m not writing about what I know in an experiential sense. But no one has said ‘you got this all wrong.’ I was deliberately working with Canadiana forest tropes as a way of chasing loose the abstract content of the other pieces. 

I enjoy how the story unfolds with the hard work of ice-bound logs, how the number of men increases, the sound of chipping increases, the harness of the ice, the persistence of the loggers as they overcome the jam. The foreshadowing of water being like ‘blood/fresh gashes.’ Then the cost of industry when one of them falls under. There is no rescue attempt.

There is also the movement in the two repeated verses, almost like a song chorus, that changes from ‘sun’ to ‘corpse.’ It is a great piece to perform, as is ‘Woodsman’, & would usual pair them. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via paypal along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

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