This is going to be a long poem.
All i got so far is:
"Milk on the whetstone."
Is anyone familiar with grinding or forging "on the hollow?" I used to have a Case knife that was "ground on the hollow," I was told that it meant that each sharpening would make the knife sharper. Several years ago I received a matched set of Marples chisels born from that famed forge in England. The bite is set, and I am afraid to set the cutting pitch– but the chisels are useless until I set them to a further and deliberate angle. My Whetstone is cowed–when I sharpen my best chisel the outside edges are bright. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to true it.
When my first cousin died, his brother asked me for the meanest block of wood I had, and also the meanest chisel. I was afraid, and did not give him my best chisel, knowing that rage and anger could only ruin a fine thing. Within that heady time of death i brought to him an unlikey stump of hickory and I bought for him a set of Marples chisels. In his fury he broke the 3/4," just smashed and shattered it to pieces. Parts of the chisel are buried in the wood. When next I’m around I’ll collect that chunk of hickory, burn it down, take the schrapnel up to the coke forge and make a medallion from that last piece buried so deeply in the wood. I will apply a more hot fire.
Somewhere in the belongings of my dead cousin there is a brace of "Two Cherry" brand chisels, about as black and hard that ever came out of Europe. Their handles are octagonal and made of Yue, a ring of steel at the axillary end.
Of course the poem begins on HIGHWAY 412 near the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. It begins in the parking lot of a gas station during a particularly hot and difficult day. That was when I walked sweat-soaked into the gas-station with a couple of greasy $20.00 bills to purchace all of the gatorade $40.00 would buy. The crew had run themselves dry. But what I saw was two children, toddlers, standing in the back seat of some old car, smearing their sweat and shit against the windows.
We had Mack Harness in our employ at the time. He brought his own tools. His circular saw had a 50′ lead. He was a good carpenter but was a dyed in the wool alcoholic. He had that kind of wavery high pitched timber to his voice. One time I drove him to lunch and during the ride he admitted to me that he’d never beat alcohol. Godspeed him, I hope he never does. That was a brutal summer and War Eagle was full of cold beer and nothing else. Those were also "days of Jasper," my dog. Perhaps the sweetest animal. Jasper didn’t fuck-up ever, and he was a thing that loved me during a time when I was not lovable. I killed him. He couldn’t haul the wagon anymore.
My love to you all.
“Great Heaven came, and with him brought the night. . . .
Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.”