Mule Driver Chronicles
tow motor fork truck
what most folks know as a forklift brute
and as many drivers call a mule
mule drivers exploited dumb
of burden on the mule
trading the whip's quick sting for stiff knees and jolted kidneys,
the drivers are the mules
drive your car between home and work,
maybe half an hour each way, each day
quitting time, parking lot, slump behind the wheelcrabbing sideways with a wet-browed worker's life (if fortunate)
and click on your left turn signal
as if shifting into reverse
leaden sheet chilly as leaked propane, rain
breaching overhead apron's gap
upon your brain (which concocts a roof for the mule)
half-devoured tires whizzing on the wet brow plate
each countless pallet, the cracker diet
on which comes served a daily
gorge and purge semi trailers, straight box trucks,
flatbeds (Rattus managericus)
rail cars, swaying and braying
(tipping eerily as wood-less planks creak and groan)
sending rats scurrying along train tracks below
but tail-less breed above
rarely come down here anywayno prob, boss
more full platters of galvanized roll in
intact for a change (no unloading by hand)
and not twenty-foot this time, only ten
so leave the short forks on
these slings will double-stackprofanely praying through clenched jaw-cogs not to be catapaulted to heaven
stock way up in the rack
push the limit of the stability pyramid
after all, floor space is more precious than a mule (driver)
so, two big guys cling behind the cage to counterbalance
steel toes in the exhaust ports, human ballast
while even the mule driver leans all the
way Jerry W. Sears
in her adrenaline-drenched saddle
Names Of The DeadJOHN fitzown, Co.B 52d N.Y.-heart
SEYMORE lyons, Co.H. 7th Virginia-face
Union Killed at Antietam September 17, 1862
The New York TimesI collect the Names of the Dead American
service members killed in the Iraq warpublished in The New York Times
Each morning, I carefully cut out the names,No images of charred bodies in burning Humvees,
creating a hole in the page & heart of survivors.
Faceless names engraved in paper tombstone.
severed limbs, bone chips and dog tags,tying a bandolier tourniquet on a shaking bleeding stump.
a medic in desert camouflage leaning over a young GI,
Image of a man wearing Kevlar helmet, dusty goggles,
flak jacket, covering a comrade's body with a ponchoI reverently stack The Names of the Dead
next to ruins. A GI with bandaged eyes being led
to friendly lines.
on my desk in the den. Today a breeze from a crackedOne wonders if any of the Names of the Dead
window scattered them like dead leaves in the room:
MILCZARK, Matthew G. 18, Pfc.,
Kettle River, Minn. First Marine Division
THIGPEN, Thomas R. Sr., 52, Master Sgt.,
Army National Guard; Augusta, Ga.;
151st Signal Battalion
JIMENEZ, Linda C., 39, Sgt., Army;
Brooklyn; Second Squadron Combat Support
Aviation, Second Armored Calvary.
SCOTT, David A., Master Sgt., Air Force;
Union, Ohio; 445th Communications Flight.
will be chiseled in a wall of black stone? Gerald R. Wheeler
The Tree Climber's Husbandafter Dorianne Laux
Dusk brims over the side of the horizonand guides him through her understory.
during her long drive home.
Spurs and lanyards clang like giant keys
when she drops her gear at the door.
He waits until her boots are off before opening.
Carefully, they only let lips touch:
her clothes are thick with poison
oak oil; he helps her out of them.
Fir and fern wash over like a breeze.
Her socks still wet from sweat.
He slides her pants from her legs.
Her arms spread like branches as he lifts her shirt
and reveals her breasts hidden
like nests where voles and owls live.
She wraps her limbs around him
The forest floor under her fingernails,
her hair smells of dried twigs,
her ankles lock as she readies
for the long drive home and the dusk
Eric Wayne Dickey