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William Heyen-II

The American Measure

On my natural way to the discovery of what it dawned on me to call

                the single-line couplet,


I spent days on my back acre pulling wild grapevines from trunks & limbs

                of dead ash


that the emerald borer had killed, & now the trees would be firewood,

                & grapevines


would obstruct my chainsawing, so, to be safe, I pulled them down,

                some vines an inch thick,


cleared spaces, cleared entanglements, & then would fell a tree.

                As I worked,


I talked to myself, having come to this voice, it was late summer,

                then early autumn,


then late autumn, I kept working, kept talking to myself in these single-line

                couplets that were like


a chainsaw chain cutting into an ash trunk, the razzing & the chewing,

                the chips buzzing


to my feet, then the tree falling, & then the cutting into sections, good work,

                the American measure


that Doc Williams always looked for to get himself said who never,

                so far as I know,


chainsawed, but who listened over my shoulder, the happy genius

                of my woodlot.