by Hastings Hensel

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 storySouthThe Greensboro ReviewCave Wall32 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.