Both Men Were Heavy Weights

The fight was not
As one in a ring
As most bar fights are not
Motion & the narrowness
Of the bar blurred each punch as there
Was no pedestal—they were
Both timber fallers, suspenders
Dirty hickory shirts, fallers’ pad on the top
Of each suspendered shoulder, &
It started all at once, Richard
Threw the first punch after
The other cutter said dryly, “The talking part is over..”
& away it went arms punching & a few
Wild swings a couple almost boxing stances all
Ever so briefly, but mostly toe to toe slug fest
& Richard was landing regularly
His opponent was six four,
Richard was six eight—both men were heavy weights
It was volley for volley, of big guns
& the Tiller Tavern was the
Arena & as there had been no announcements
The crowd, took a while to come alive,
& the roar began & the entirety of loggers picked sides
Richard’s crew and the other’s but the action
Had gone down to one end of the bar tipped
Over the cigarette machine & was moving back
To the other end & everyone was getting out
Of the way and it was a time when no one
Thought of calling the police &
They were all 30 miles away, anyway &
Bodies and chairs and tables were being pushed &
Upended & some glass began to crash
& two big men slugged it out, head & body punches
Thrown & answered & the shorter giant
getting a couple good upper cuts
& Richard landing rib crushing body blows,
Trying for a body quivering liver shot,
Blood had begun to flow from faces of both men
By the time they reached the other end of the bar
& the thundering crush and bare knuckle blows
Seemed to be wearing on Richard’s opponent &
He began backing back up the bar toward the door
Counter punching then just trying to counter punch
From blocked blows that were answered with body shots
& then a half dozen clench fisted blows from Richards’
Dinner plate size hands sent him to the floor &
As he fell, he loudly coughed, “Enough, enough,
You damn win, enough stop.” & Richard
Backed off and let the man get up, bar towels
Were passed to them both for the blood &
Everyone went back to their beer.
The next day Richard had to work on a side
Of timber in the Umpqua Divide steep & down in the hole
& had almost a mile climb straight up & out of his patch of
Fallen timber, & the show had stopped as the humidity
Dropped where any spark would cause a forest fire
& by the time Richard had humped back
Up the slope to the landing where the crew were gathering
To end the day, at 1 p.m. all had been up at 1 am & work started at two
With a long “crummy” ride to the landing at 4:30 a.m. & dawn & it was now 105 degrees
In the shade, & as Richard humped up from the bottom
His chainsaw bar balanced on his shoulder & the fallers
Pad taking the bite out of the big saws weight, that hung over his back,
With his right hand in front he controlled the machine with each measured step up
& with the sheer gravity of the ascent & packing up his gear he felt most of yesterday’s fight,
Bruised ribs & arms & a cracked tooth climbing & using the Gospel sure footedness
Of his caulk boots in each spiked step up & the climb became still more painful & the top
Beckoned and there would be soon cold beer & the pain felt somehow good &
Heat had begun to impinge on each sweating step going side hill up & switching back
Closer & the side of the mountain that gave off the perfume from just cut stumps
& balsam smell of the just down Douglas fir, and though Richard didn’t look
Mt. Theilsen’s craggy pointed top stuck out of the blue
Hot air but the landing got nearer, & Richard’s tin hat started to
Pop over the top of the landing’s edge & as he got his chin
Just above the shot rocked surface, he saw a pickup setting 10 feet
Away & his opponent from last night sitting cool & clean
With his arm outside the cab & they met eye to eye again,
Though Richard was looking up at him now,
“Bet I could take you right now,” he yelled from the pickup above the landings noise
“I suppose you could,” Richard said wearily & the man in the pickup grinned,
Richard lifted up his chain saw, and gas, and gear to the landing
& then the pick up slowly backed up and turned around by the yarder
With its big diesel engine still idling
Richard stood up as yesterday’s rival drove off the dusty landing
In front of the high pile of bark stripped logs
That had been pulled over the rocky hillside from a mile below
& in the burning heat Richard took a long drink of water,
His hard hat tipped back, while watching the pickup make dust
As it backed off the landing in front of the next log truck
That was heading for a White City mill.

One thought on “Both Men Were Heavy Weights

  1. you know you work with a guy for years and think you know him then life takes a turn and it turns out you didn’t really know him at all

    Like

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