Sunday Snippet, Poetry, Hacksaw by Bill Chance

I don’t know how to howl. I have lost that. I might suddenly start. But no cheap scheme can save me now.

—-Rudolph Wurlitzer

Petrified Wood Gas Station, Decatur, Texas


Have you ever used a hacksaw?
The harsh sound of metal rending, the hard push, vibration, thin blade, tiny hard teeth, little bits slicing through steel.

Have you ever used a circular saw?
The whir of the blade, the smell of sawdust, little bits of wood glancing off of goggles, pure power.

Have you ever used a power drill?
Long orange extension cord, the turn of the little key, forty-five degree gears, tightening, then turning, twisting, little spirals of wood coming out of the hole.

Do you own sawhorses?
Old two by fours, turned gray by the sun, metal brackets, galvanized screws, homebuilt, leans up against the house, waiting faithfully ’til they are needed.

Have you ever used a power screwdriver?
Torque, a twist into the wrist, whirring slowing into a deeper sound, Phillips bit into the screwhead, flights bite into the wood, around and down, tight, grinds to a halt.

Have you ever used a sabre saw?
Razor toothed tongue jabs in and out, head shaking vibration, bite a bit, then move on.

Do you use a tape measure?
Yellow stripe, black marks, little silver ear to hang on, a familiar rumble in the palm when the tape plays out, slight curve to hold horizontal for awhile, little lever on the bottom pulls the tape back in with a quick whiz.

Have you hammered a nail?
Pull back, fingers hold the nail, be careful, a mistake can hurt, first tentative strike, then pull back and pow pow pow.

Have you held a square?
A carpenter’s square, big hunk of steel, or a try square for things that need right angles, a combination square for forty-fives, an adjustable square for angles in-between, all are connections to geometry, to perfection, to things that fit.

Do you own a level?
That little bubble in the yellow liquid, the two black lines, the tube that knows where the earth is, which way it points.

These are his days, days of building, of sweat, of sawdust on his clothes, grease spots on his legs, that odd soreness that comes from real work.