Excerpt from C.D. Albin's AXE, FIRE, MULE

C.D. Albin's new book of poetry, Axe, Fire, Mule, will be out next month.  Here are two of its 52 poems.  For more about the author, see our Author page.





Speck of Shine


Run a gun-and-pawn like the

Pair-a-Dice and you’ll see most

anything. This morning came


a woman with her daughter,

neither bigger than a whip.

The daughter’s face was framed by


bird’s nest hair her mama swept

behind one ear, revealing

a speck of shine in the lobe.


Pure gold, she swore. What’ll

you give? The girl cupped her ear,

hissed about a boy, a gift,


but the mother slapped away

the protecting hand. Your sign

says cash for gold. How much this?


I thought to close, claim sickness,

but the girl cursed, set the stud

on the counter and banged out


the door. Her mother stepped near.

You’ve got a slick price in mind.

I slid five ones near her reach,


stared at the place where she snatched

the bills. Then I worked a cloth

back and forth across that spot.




Irish Wilderness


A wilderness . . . is hereby recognized

as an area where the earth and its

community of life are untrammeled

by man, where man himself

is a visitor who does not remain.


The Wilderness Act of 1964




They wed a priest’s dream to their own and so

purchased parcels of Missouri’s wild land

along the Eleven Point because they


could afford no better. Now we burnish

tales of their vanishing into legend,

gaze upon the great second growth forest


that remains, and shiver for newcomers

who dare enter, nodding to each other

when they lose their way and must be rescued


by locals on mountain ponies. We fail

to remember how our lank ancestors

cleared the first forest in a violence


of axes that echoed the war years when

bushwhackers lived to loot and burn, their paths

swaths of fire that sent entire towns into


exile, Irish pioneers suddenly

remade into refugees fleeing charred

homesteads and war-wild hearts of their neighbors.