Perspectives On A Logging Camp

by Steven Hollies, USA

Any who think trees do not scream 
have not listened to a forest razed.

Falling on a timber camp, air 
wrestles itself into knots of death—

the crackle of bark exploding, 
whipsaw shriek of blades

blasting centuries back to dust, 
man and machine growling and crawling 

over miles of columnar corpses—
from each direction, wind arrives 

and curls back upon itself in despair.
Tree blood napalms sky;

the earth stands on its toes in agony. 
Stumps search from soil 

like the severed wrists of the damned.
The cutters of this kingdom

sit on them like thrones,
gobbling meat and cheese

as if immune to death.
Their laughter is unbelievable.

I ask what it would take to make them stop. 
“My family must eat,” says one man.

“I know no other way,” a second.
A third, “The pay is better to destroy.”

Their awareness breaks me.
Perhaps it broke them, too.

They return to work, whistling 
and smiling like axes, hastening to a violence 

so precise it looks like mercy:
as if each holds silently,
in the deep mine of his consciousness, 
the grim knowledge 

that he is cutting down his children.

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