Billy Staub

It was hotter’n blue blazes around this part of Texas this past summer; over a hundred degrees on a lot of days. It reminded me of this poem I wrote several years ago. It’s a true story–embellished a bit–and what happened on that long ago day had everything to do with the heat. 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 again… probably not.

This Silence Was Not Golden

 

I was on the porch in the wood swing

It creaked and gently swayed

In a hot south wind

 

No workin’ in the woods on those kinda days

Fire danger and all

Didn’t matter to me

 

I was four beers in; two to go

And Hank Jr. was croonin

‘Bout bein’ whiskey bent

 

Billy Staub’s chainsaw was whinin’

Out back somewhere

An angry steady sound

 

Dale’s old 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

 

hound-dogThe old dog raised his head, listening

Somehow seeming to know

This silence was not golden

 

The breeze sighed then went still

And 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

(Revised 11/07/2018)

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