Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The axe and the chinaberry tree

The axe blade is sunk deep into the wood. The axe blade glints darkly.

Moss grows fat on the handle. Rust grows deep into the blade. Oxide bleeds deep in the hardwood. Oxide bleeds into the grain. The axe sticks fast. The wood flesh binds. The wood flesh enfolds. The scar deepens.

The chinaberry tree adapts.

The young boys grow. They're like sandy-headed tiger cubs. The roll and tumble. They cuff each other and tussle. The play each other and hustle. The young tigers fight. The tigers break free. They taste their own blood. The tigers break out. They taste their own tears.

he axe blade is sunk deep into the wood. Jesse pulls the axe. It won't come. The blade bites hard. The handle thrungs. Jess moves on.

The chinaberry tree grows. It grows slowly: there'll be time enough for dances. It grows straight. The wood flesh enfolds.

Jed pulls on the axe. It won't come. The blade's bitten hard. The handle thrungs.

The chinaberry defies. Jed gets an idea.

The tiger cubs grow. They look to the sky. They look for a vantage. They look to climb. Jesse makes an attempt. Ray stays below. Jesse overweans; Ray plays it low.

Mark it: the first step up to the upper reaches: that old axe handle. Jesse ascends. Jesse aspires. Jesse gets stuck. It's too great a stretch.

Jed scratches his chin. He looks at the tree. He pulls on the axe. The axe won't come. The blade's bitten hard. The handle thrungs.

The chinaberry defies. Jed gets an idea. He makes for the shed.

Jed comes back with old screwdrivers: a route to the stars. Jed bangs them in, a step up at a time: a stairway to heaven. Jed bangs in more: a route to the heavens.

Sap runs galore. Sap runs like tears. Sap runs like rust. Rust flows into the blade. Oxide bleeds deep in the hardwood. Oxide bleeds into the grain. The old blade hold fast. It's sunk down to the handle. The wood flesh binds. The woodflesh enfolds. The scars deepen. The sap runs galore. The chinaberry weeps.

The chinaberry tree adapts.

Jesse climbs at once. He makes the low branches. He scales the upper reaches. He gets a view.

Ray stays below. Ray plays it low.

Jess makes it his home. Jesse makes it his sanctuary. Jesse spends hours at the top of that tree. Ray stays ground level. It's that axe.

Sap runs galore.


  1. As a preamble, I stumbled on your blogging after reading a review of The Economic Naturalist on the Big A. Since you get little by way of commentary on your cogitations, I thought that I would.

    I have looked through lots of your posts on all three blogs, and I liked the Blind Electric Ray the most. Your staccato style is strongly reminiscent of Ellroy – particularly the Underworld USA trilogy. These fictional pieces are very good and hang together very well. My favourite is ‘The axe and the chinaberry tree’. It works extremely well, even if the opening description is confused (how can blade glint if the rust is deep?). I love the melancholy and the aching feelings of loss throughout this and lots of the others. Keep it up.

    As a Parker Knoll Anarcho Syndicalist, you should be my arch-nemesis (Investment Banking = Anathema), but I like your writing style. Given that your Investment Banking backroom legal role affords you time on online, don’t give it up. You write well...

  2. Hi Louis
    Thanks for your post - I'm flattered you made such an effort to find this stuff let alone comment on it.

    Spot on about Ellroy: currently it is too close a lift so I need to do more rewriting to find my own cadence but I find the discipline of conforming to a cadence and an economy of expression very good for my writing (I'm trained as a lawyer: I tend to overwrite.)

    I have always thought anarcho-syndicalists and capitalists have more in common than either would care to admit, but anyhow I think we'd share more of an outlook than you'd expect: end of day most in estment bankers I know aren't ideologues of any stripe: they're profoundly pragmatic folk who are simply playing the odds like anyone else. They've got plenty to answer for, but so does everyone else.

    Anyhow, thanks for writing: you've impelled me to post some more: watch this space!

    (the one thing my job *doesn't* give me is the opportunity to write - that's all in those precious few hours of down time, on trains, in taxis, and when the children are asleep).