(Note: Woodsmen refer to the vehicles they use to reach logging sites as “crummies.”)
Past the iron gate we rattle atop the washboard logging road
Navigating shaky coffee cups to our lips.
Woods shiver under frost while to the right
A ridge guzzles sunlight.
Bayberries, tanoaks, vine maple and ferns jostle for space
Among the few token redwoods allowed to remain.
The first jolty bump baps open the glovebox door.
John slams it back, but bopbababa, open it bounces again,
Sending John to grope the floorboard before
Finding a scrench to jam it shut.
Plop! Drops the rear-view mirror,
Like a proud buck deer
Bagged by a speeding bullet.
John pushes it back to its slot
But again it falls dead.
“Piece a shit,” mutters driver Mike.
Past a copse of birches we fork left to a narrow muddy path
Scarred by water bars like huge parking lot humps.
We crawl cautiously atop one then bam! into the trough
While we, left skyward, slam back down to solid seats.
“Piece a shit,” mutters Mike, stopping, the front seat now
Bent back like an easy chair while the two woodsmen
Thrust futilely to butt-push it forward.
“People beat the shit outa this thing,” grumbles Mike,
Now leaning on the steering wheel.
“They don’t give a shit, they jus’ stick their muddy boots
All over the dashboard an’ kick off all the damn knobs
An’ smear the damn windshield an’ leave their garbage
All over the floorboard an’ dent the thing all over
An’ now the seat’s busted–we look like lowriders.”
Ahead muddy ruts have pulverized the rain-soused road.
Mike stops the rig to shift all four wheels into gear while
We await the imminent charge.
We plow into the muck,
Slither a few sloshy feet and stop,
Motor screaming and rear wheels spinning wildly,
Like clamp-trapped weasels impotently raging.
“Ain’t shiftin’ inta four-wheel drive,” mutters Mike.
John unrolls his window to peek at the front tires, which,
He verifies, lounge motionless in the mud, on sick leave today.
Mike backs the truck, lights a Marlboro, then jams the throttle to the floor.
In a roaring rig with blur-whirling wheels and the smell of burning oil
We plunge into the mire.
At a left curve Mike swiftly hand-over-hand turns the wheels,
But we slosh straight ahead, our Kamakazi crummy hell-bent
To crush the enemy’s embankment.
Although Mike eases the gas and touches the brakes
We idle-slide and crunch the cut-through hillside.
“Shit,” says Mike, exhaling smoke.
“It’s just another dent,” says John.
He hurls his half-smoked Marlboro to the floor
Stamps it out and retreats a dozen yards.
“Would you believe this piece a shit’s only a year old?” he grouses.
Choosing the inside rut
He renews the assault against mud and succeeds.
At the landing MIke kills the engine.
In morning stillness around the slash below
We’ll cut fireline for fifty cents a foot.
Someday someone might burn it and maybe someone will replant it,
But now in the cold we drink coffee.