Margaret Yocom


For Rodney Richard, Sr., founder of the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, Rangeley, Maine

If you’ve ever held
the buck and tumble, felt
steel-ice burn
through the wife’s mittens,
out there,
he said,
you’d know.

Couldn’t just throw it away.
All those years.
See –
got a old toothraker chain,
a hand clutch.
First one in Phillips,
Nineteen Forty-eight.
Right after graduation.
High school.

Don’t work, but still.
Laid my crosscut and
kerosene can down for
this thirty-eight-pounder.
And that’s empty.
Yes sir.
Real man-killer.

Worth it?
And yes.
We were cutting big pine
on Wing Flats
by Macky Toothaker’s,
Father and I.
Don’t see white pine
like that no more.
Pumpkin pine.
I’d cut two for his one
with this.
Jeez, but this thing could kick.
I was black and blue
that whole summer.

Then I bought a 12A Mall
from Phil Caron. Almost new.
Thing kicked –
cut him right across both legs,
put him in the hospital.
Almost ruined the family jewels.
Said he wasn’t ever going to use it

I didn’t have that son-of-a-bitch
much more than a month –
Father and I were up on Day Mountain –
and it kicked back,
and it caught
in the clips of my boots –
you know,
those hooks you hook your lacings in.
Tore one right out, and
it bent two more, and
it punched a hole the length of my leg, and
it caught in my pant leg, and
it turned end for end, and
it drove in my groin.

I was sitting
on my ass
on the ground just –
bang –
like that,
so goddamned quick
you wouldn’t hardly know
which end
you was standing on.

So –
I sit there, and
I turn the chain backwards, and
I get my pant leg free, and
I get up, and
I saw the tree up, and
I throw that goddamned saw just as far
as I can throw it,
down the mountain,
into that tangle of spruce and fir.

Nineteen Fifty.
Year I got drafted into the army.

Oh, he tipped over awhile back

So –
Herschel Abbott said
you took his
No, no, McCulloch.
D-44 McCulloch. Said
you take good care of it, said
you have a whole
collection, a history.

No need to bother with
my name on that tag, but
here’s what you want to get right:
I E L Pioneer.

Since 1977, Margaret Yocom has taught folklore in the Department of English at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Among her courses is “Living Words: Folklore and Creative Writing.” She serves as curator and archivist for the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum in Rangeley, ME. Among her publications is Logging in Maine: The Art of Alden Grant. She is writing “Generations in Wood,” a book on the traditional art and storytelling of the Richard family, loggers and homemakers of Phillips and Rangeley. Her poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Voices, and is forthcoming in The Folklore Muse (Utah State University Press).

“Donation” draws on stories told to the author by Rodney Richard, Sr. More info on the author and the museum can be found at


Published in Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2009.