Categories
Poems

Duel at Mackinac

Two blokes float out on a cedar log
in the middle of a lake or a river or a bog
then throw their poles and at “time in”
proceed to pull and kick and spin
that lathed down tree trunk ‘neath their feet
and grind the other to defeat

The battle plays like high speed chess
the edge to he with the guts and finesse
to stay the course, stave off the kicks
the snubs and spins and bag of tricks
the other ploys to win the fight
may it last a minute, or go all night

You gotta have skills to make the grade
lightning fast feet, and can’t be afraid
to break your neck or rump or back
when pitted against some lumberjack
who knocks you about from pillar to post
then drops you like an old pot roast

A land of busted dreams and pride
where another man publicly tans your hide
and that brown haired girl you brought from the city
looks past you now, without any pity
her eyes now shine for the one so bold
who holds her heart in that cup of gold

The greatest match that I ever saw
took place on the isle of Mackinaw
where thirty logrollers and the Lumbermill Chief
came to wrest the title from Hiram L’Beef
the nonpareil, undefeated, ten times champ
and toughest son’bitch in the lumberjack camp

Seven feet tall, weighing twenty five stone
a mountain of muscle, gristle, and bone
the temperament of a pissed off lion
he lifted a Mack truck without even tryin’
the tales told ’bout this brute ain’t fibs
he kicked a small poodle once, square in the ribs

The matches proceeded just as expected
no chinks in the armor of the champ were detected
taunting all comers like Goliath of Gath
before plunging them in for their Saturday bath
bowing all rivals that day to his power
Hiram L’Beef. The man of the hour.

He collected the trophy and gambling kitty
then collected that brown haired girl from the city
a muscled brown arm wrapped ’round her small waist
the second place loser, his face white as paste
then Hiram L’Beef really plunged in the knife
and boasted out loud about stealing his wife

Saying, “Boy, you roll like a goddamn pansy.
Goona give this here heifer a roll in the tansy.
She’ll have fancy clothes and a shiny new car
a house with a deck and her “dream tiki bar”.
A real man is what this city girl needs
not some shit-kickin’ loser, all talk and no deeds”.

The loser just sat there soaking the shame
he knew in his heart that he bore the blame
of failures, and sinners, he knew he was chief
What man can compare with Hiram L’Beef?
Then suddenly a blur… of sky blue and tan
out of the grandstands strode this odd little man

Like a scarecrow absconded from Gustafson’s farm
a King James Bible tucked under his arm
brown hair combed over, blue and tan shirt
his steely grey gaze cut holes in the dirt
facing off with the monster, Hiram L’Beef
was six score and ten pounds of Lumbermill Chief!

His words still and small and perfectly clear
a deaf and dumb man, would’ve lent him his ear
“Your manners today have been a disgrace
you caused this man’s wife to spit in his face
and beside that, you took our Lord’s name in vain
So, prepare thee this day for a dosage of pain.

“You need a stern lesson, dear man, and by God
I’m thrashing your hind parts, and won’t spare the rod
A whip for the horse… bridle for ass
a fool must be shown that, ALL FLESH IS GRASSE!
So, just say the word when you’ve got yourself set
I’m beating you flat, and I ain’t gettin’ wet”.

Hiram L’Beef looked the man up and down
this runt of a pint sized skeleton clown
“It’s smug little bastards, like you, I despise
thumping your bibles, spreading your lies.
Snoozers are losers. This girlie I took.
So, Goddamn you, Mister. AND GODDAMN YOUR BOOK!”

The Lumbermill Chief gave a wry little smile
laid down his worn bible upon the sundial
whose shadow now showed it one tick past noon
L’Beef’s laughter swelled like a hot air balloon
The city girl sported an impudent face
The loser just sat there and stared off in space

Not even a whisper. Nobody dared.
The two men climbed onto the log and prepared
for hell to unleash at the sound of “time in”
The Mayor was downing a bottle of gin
BOOM! went the gun. Hiram full bore.
Kicking the log like the S.W.A.T. team the door

Whitewater rushed like a wave from Hawaii
L’Beef spit tobacco juice straight in the eye
of the little logroller who wore blue and tan
who’d jumped from the fire straight into the pan
a shift of direction and then a loud CRACK
Hiram L’Beef was flat on his back!

A roar from the crowd as the little man jumped
o’er the top of the body of the giant he’d dumped
he stood on the dock, his clothes clean and dry
and calmly wiped beechnut from out of his eye
“Round two coming up. Let me know when you’re ready.
And take your time, Sir… Your legs don’t look steady.”

Up, shot L’Beef, throwing punches in droves
his oversized fist streaking straight for the nose
The small man no stranger to back alley brawls
sidestepped, then punted L’Beef in the balls
The giant sank slowly down to his knees
“Round two, Gentlemen… on the log, if you please.”

The next roll played out like a war of attrition
an hour long battle for top-dog position
then Hiram collapsed, his eyes looking glazy
The blue and tan man still fresh as a daisy
He hopped to the dock, his clothes dry and clean
“Stay down, Sir. I warn you. I’m about to get mean.”

But Hiram L’Beef did all things but cower
he’d best this small man with sheer size and sheer power
he jammed his spikes downward, straight into the log
stopping it dead, like a truck in the bog
but the Lumbermill Chief, he simply adjusted
Jolting the log. The giant’s leg busted.

Three falls straight and the champ met defeat
The bone in his leg poked out through the meat
The crowd going GONZO in a full frenzied roar
no man but the Chief, could’ve settled this score
back from the dial, his bible collected
he walked to L’Beef who lay there dejected

He offered his bible to the man he had downed
But old Hiram L’Beef was too proud, and just frowned
So the odd little man in the tan and blue shirt
walked off with his bible, his face lined with hurt
when suddenly that city girl ran down the slope
and clutched at his arm… eyes full of hope

“May I please? good Sir, have that bible you hold?
Excuse me for being so blunt and so bold.
But I need God’s forgiveness. This I confess.
Much more than I need a new house, or new dress.
So, please my dear Sir, if there’s room at the inn
with God as my witness, I’ll repent of my sin”.

She cradled the book and with joy in her eyes
ran back to the loser with the second-place prize
She fell to her knees and with tears bathed his feet
“Oh Husband!… forgive my desire to cheat!
If we dwell in a trailer, and our soles go unshod
We now have between us… THE PURE WORDS OF GOD”.

The loser stood tall, embracing his bride
they walked off together her glued to his side.
Now, the greatest match that I ever saw
took place on the Isle of Mackinaw
where thirty logrollers and the Lumbermill Chief
brought down the foul sinner, Hiram L’Beef.

Returne vnto the Lord, and forsake thy sinnes, make thy prayer before his face, and offend lesse.

Ecclesiasticus 17:25 (Holy Bible 1611)

She saide, No man, Lord. And Iesus saide vuto her, neither doe I condemne thee: Goe, and sinne no more.

John 8:11 (Holy Bible 1611)


*Notes
-Storypoem in the style of Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee, etc)
-six line stanzas, loose metering, heroic couplets… STORYPOEM
-Logrolling has been my life’s trade. The artwork really speaks loudly to me. The use of color and style captures the setting of the poem perfectly.