Hyper Howie

Howie’s hyped up on caffeine and nicotine,
claims he doesn’t need more than three hours sleep.
Not ever. And if that isn’t weird enough,
the slightest noise sounds off some internal alarm
and he’s on his feet, dukes up, in his B.V.D.s.

But get the man in a set of cork boots,
stuff a cheap wine-dipped cigar in his mouth
and he’ll fly through the underbrush
like a bear with hornets up his butt.
Have a half-acre plot flagged, compassed off,
before you can step out of the crew cab.

Used to drive cab in Vancouver. Mad bugger
behind a wheel too. I was in three accidents
one summer working with him, and still
the bloody forestry department wouldn’t
let me take the damn steering wheel.

First time, we flew into a granddaddy Doug fir
after trying to ride the shoulder in third.
He wouldn’t check the depth of a puddle or
pussyfoot and then gun’er through. No sir.
Second time, rolled ‘er in first trying to hug
the soft shoulder of a boulder-strewn trail.

The third time, he fish-tailed
on a hairpin turn, catapulted us off
a cliff of the Fraser Canyon near the Gang Ranch.
Dry land, no fir or pine tree to stop us,
though, thankfully, his reaction time paid off.
We careened and dipped through the wildest
roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.

You wouldn’t get me to back out of a driveway
with the guy now, not for all the folding
preternatural green in God’s creation.
Take it from me. If Howie ever gets to heaven,
there’ll be no harp waiting for that boy.
He’ll more than likely be chaffing at the bit
of a two-bit cigar, Coke in one hand and the
lever of a come-along or electric winch in the other.

He’ll be trying to raise his four-by-four
from the edge of some cloud while the rest of us
run around with Suntos and Abneys
trying to calculate the right angle to get
his vehicle through the eye of a needle.
He’ll have a perfect explanation
for the angels in Administration too, you wait and see.

~ Richard Stevenson

Richard Stevenson lives in Lethbridge and teaches at Lethbridge College. He has published twenty-two full-length books, a CD of jazz and poetry with sound troupe Naked Ear, and a half dozen chapbooks. His most recent publications are Wiser Pills (Frontenac House), Tidings of Magpies (Spotted Cow Press), and The Emerald Hour (Ekstasis Editions), all released in 2008.

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