a 9-pound firewood-splitting maul; for P.R.

Blunt-headed and stubborn as a non believer, wedged into oak beside the snow-capped trash pile on a cold day with a sky brushed back by clouds, the sun splintering the jagged crack of the horizon. Plain dumb, that’s one way the devil plays you, and here he comes, your old man ambling from cabin to shed, then into the woods thick with hemlock branches he’ll split with it, then nothing but old hands that drag the tracks deeply back to where he pulls the tool out of the stump and pumps his old arms up and down, smiting oak like a sin he’s long forgotten.

HASTINGS HENSEL is the author of a full-length poetry volume, Winter Inlet (Unicorn, 2015), which earned the Unicorn Press First Book Award, and of a chapbook, Control Burn (2011), which won of the Iron Horse Literary Review Single-Author Competition. The recipient of the 2014-2015 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship in Poetry, his poems appear in storySouth, The Greensboro Review, Cave Wall, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. He teaches at Coastal Carolina University, where he is the poetry editor of Waccamaw, and lives with his wife, Lee, in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.