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A recently unearthed poem written in a bunkhouse in Burns, Oregon

Scott Landfield

The Sundowner Motel, Burns Oregon, 1996


8 men, 1 bunkhouse;
average age 42.
5 beds—queensize…
3 men sleeping on the floor.

2 dogs, pitbull and a bitch
Katie, age 13, got 1 trick:
“Katie, what do the girls in Springfield do?
Katie rolls over, spreads her hind legs wide.
Each man shares a short laugh
the first time he sees the trick.
Katie loves the men laughing.

These men, they’re different:
not loggers, not construction,
not oil-rig workers;
not fishermen not firefighters,
not farm laborers not ranchers,
not cowboys not prison guards,
not fancy-pants do-nothings,
not like any other rangey gang
of men you’ve ever known.

Treeplanters they are,
9 long months a year,
year after year after year;
restful soldiers of fortune,
quiet, powerful, fragile-hearted and broke,
occupying some other middle of nowhere,
a couple million trees left growing in their wake.

Booker Rule