This Silence Was Not Golden

It’s hotter’n blue blazes around this part of Texas; been over a hundred for a bunch of days. Claudia, over at dVerse Poets Pub thought maybe we should write something about how reality and fantasy might blend in the heat of a torrid summer, and it made me think of this poem I wrote and posted almost exactly a year ago. It’s a true story–embellished a bit–and what happened on that long ago day had everything to do with the heat and Lord knows I wish I could say the whole thing happened in my imagination. If it hadn’t been so hot, and the logging crews hadn’t been shut down, Billy Staub might still be with us. But then… probably not.

This Silence Was Not Golden 

I was on the porch

The old wood swing

Creaked as it gently swayed

In a hot south wind


No workin’ in the woods

On those kinda days

Fire danger and all

Worked for me


I was four beers in

Two to go

And Hank Jr. was croonin

‘Bout bein’ whiskey bent


Billy Staub’s chainsaw

Was whinin’ somewhere

Out back of the house

An angry steady sound


Dale’s old hound dog hound dog

Came up and laid at my feet

I thought to shoo him

But let him be


My leg was itchin’

Something fierce

No way to scratch it

Through the dang cast


Hank stopped singin’

A tree crashed

Then Billy’s chainsaw

Sputtered and died


The old dog raised his head, listening

Knowing, this silence was not golden

The breeze sighed; went still

Somehow I knew… Billy was gone

Billy Staub was small in stature, but tough as nails, and had a heart as big as an old-growth fir tree. He had his faults, and one of them may have been partially responsible for his death, but he was a good man and a good friend.

I left the woods after a big tree fell on me, breaking my leg so badly it required two operations, and about two years in and out of casts. Billy was killed not long after my accident, when a big tree he was felling took an unexpected turn and landed on him. He was probably high when it happened, because he usually was. When the big tree hit my leg, I saw it coming and ran like crazy trying to get out of its way; I imagine when Billy saw the big tree coming at him, he probably just grinned and looked at it with those ever-droopy eyes of his and said, “Huh… would ya look at that…”

Copyright © C. Mashburn 2012


  1. howanxious said

    Poignant.. and full of emotions. What gives it, its intensity, is personal experience.

  2. ah i do think i remember this one…i remember the pups and billy having the tree fall on him…having a cast in the summer is terrible and itches something like fire..worth the re-read sir…i think a cold one might be in order now…smiles.

  3. Awe, and the hound dog lost his friend. So sad.
    P.S. My dad lost a hunk of his leg to a chainsaw.

  4. kkkkaty said

    New to me, I couldn’t help thinking of the movie “Sometimes a Great Notion”….a tough job …and sad one for you..

    • It was a tough job, but–except for the accidents and deaths–it was a fun and rewarding one, too.
      Thanks, Katy

  5. Poor Billy… fantastic personal write Charles. 🙂

  6. claudia said

    oh heck….yeah..i remember this… at least he had a peaceful death when he was high and probably thought the tree wants to give him a hug…dang…this is a dangerous job you’re doing…take care…

    • I can’t remember Billy ever getting upset or excited. And, I never went back to the woods after the broken leg. I tried, but for several years it was a challenge walking on flat ground, much less running around in the mountains dodging fir trees. I went back into the construction industry and was a commercial construction superintendent for the next thirty years or so.
      Thanks, Claudia.

  7. David King said

    Raw and powerful. The telling of it allows the story to speak for itself. Very moving.

  8. Fantastic story, filled with sadness and realism.. I can’t even imagine the feeling and inderstanding in that silence of the falling tree…

  9. Mary said

    I remember this one, Charles. I think it is one of your most powerful poems. How hard to lose a friend this way.

  10. Truedessa said


    This is sad I can almost hear the tree coming down. It has a haunting quality that takes hold. I guess it is like that with personal writes as they are raw..sorry about the leg and the friend.

  11. grapeling said

    Damn fine write and tribute. I’m thinking Billy would have wanted you to finish the other 2, so as not to let them get cold. ~ M

  12. A sad poignant story, which was written very nicely. I liked the Hank, Jr. in there; all three generations are really good in my opinion. Nice write. -Mike

  13. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) said

    A sad story. I like the way you told it in your prose comment, and I love the poem you made of it.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: