There's nothing like the perfect job.

Rowing a boat on top of the world

The bay was smooth as glass
The sky was a crisp blue
The snow covered peaks stood
stark, gigantic, bold
and true.

My job was to row a boat,
to a raft of logs and tie one on,
and tow it to the pile driver
and dock crew while as yet the ships
were gone.

The oar was dipped into the dark sea,
and pulled with eddies slowly unfurled,
the log was moving with the steady strokes
of flashing oars in Alaska on top
of the world.

What a joy it was to be paid
to stretch my body at this glorious job,
mastering a row boat in the time of fax
and smart phones grasped somewhere
by a mob.

A rush of wind riffles wavelets upon the bay
the heavy log strains the rope then yields,
the unhurried course is plowed to Kenny
on the pile driver, eighty-five years old,
smoking Chesterfields.

Just in time the cable comes down
I loosen the half hitches and Kenny shouts,
"Keep 'er hot boy, keep 'er hot!"
I snub the cable to the creosote log,
as daylight pouts.

I sit back to the oars for another trip,
but Kenny yells, "oh, it's almost coffee time,
get outta that boat!" The workers drop
PV's , three by twelves, chain saws to stretch
on the company's dime.

We saunter to the chow hall for mug up
in the hush of the bay and its wavelets,
nothing but the breeze, peaks and foxes
and us, the poets of Paradise headed
for crumpets.

The cook, a union member of the Merchant Marine,
fixed an abundant spread,
fruit juice, milk, hot chocolate, coffee,
cake and pastries baked fresh to
raise the dead.

After forty-five minutes we struggled up
to get back to the tools of our trade,
I climbed back in my row boat,
settled to oars ready to pull
green from jade.

It was a race to finish the dock
for the ships to come and unload
cargoes of salt, food, building supplies,
for the wretched cannery, days went by and
I rowed.

Kenny called us to mug up
and we dropped our tools and swirled
sugar in coffee and wolfed down pastries
slathered with butter in Alaska
on top of the world.

It was late about dinner time
I rowed the last log to cable,
"Keep 'er hot boy, keep 'er hot!"
that the Sea Provider cleared Priest Rock
as if in a fable.

She came up the channel blasting her horn
as the pile driver gave a final hiss
the last plank was laid as she came along side
and threw bow line, stern line, spring line to collective

Poetry by Peter J. Kautsky
Read 760 times
Written on 2014-04-13 at 23:01

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Nabeela Altaf
A gem of a poem.

Jeffrey Z Rothstein
As I said last night, a really great read, and a lot of fun--sort of like a sea shanty sung on a johnboat by two rangy 19th century fellows in a George Caleb Bingham painting. The lilting cadence and stanzas reinforce that sense of pushing logs down the interior of a rough waterway; and the contrast between such simple and yet enaggingly physical work and the world of "smart phones and fax" has a wonderful rustic quality. And yes, for some reason it does make me think of Carl Sandburg,
Great stuff!

My kind of job! Very descriptive write which made me want to be there!!

Rob Graber
This really brings it to life!

What a journey, what a job, what an epic tale. Great word "riffles."