Poppy’s Brush Pile
Poppy liked to tell the story
about the time he did a little
yard cleaning and had a grand old pile
of brush and leaves, probably
about ten feet high more than likely,
and reckoned he couldn’t
bag it all, that Ketchem’s
didn’t have enough bags to sell
even if he’d wanted to, so he
figured on it awhile and settled on
a big burning as the best way—
shortly the pile would be gone,
and while it was a-going he could
set on the porch and just watch.
So he took a dry bunch of leaves
up under the pile and dropped
his half-smoked Marlboro.
One tiny spark and a smidgen
of smoke and nothing else.
Well, this ain’t working
worth shooting, he said.
Then he went to the porch
and got a-hold of the morning paper,
crinkled it all up, stuffed it
in the pile and lit a match.
The paper burnt quick
and awful hot but petered out
before doing its business—
‘bout like my pecker, Poppy said—
so he went back to figuring.
Then he remembered that five-gallon can
of regular gasoline he had sitting
in the shed, and he wasn’t about
to let a damned brush pile
make a fool of him. He took the can
and scrabbled to the top, standing
like the precious good Lord
come again on Mount Olive,
and dumped the gas all over the pile.
‘Course it took awhile to pour
five gallons, so in the meantime
the fumes worked their way
all into the little pockets
of air. As you might guess
but Poppy didn’t, not quite yet,
when the match was dropped
the blast blowed him
clear into the flower bed,
heels heavenward. He said he smelt
singed ass-hairs for two weeks after.
He liked to tell this story and say,
See there, honey, even if you reckon
you got the best idea, you still
might want to figure awhile.