Don’t Cut Me Down

I don’t want any of this tree poetry
shit from you.    You don’t know what a
fuckin tree is.    If ya think its only
in yer head yer full of shit.    Trees is
trees and the only thing they’re good
for is lumber so don’t give me any crap
about them bein sumpin else.    Fer chrys
sake you think the rest of us don’t
know sweet fuck all compared to you.
Well you don’t know nuthin till ya go
out there and bust yer back on em.
Settin chokers’d break yer ass so fast
ya wouldn’t even wanna look at a
goddamned tree let alone write about
em.    Then ya’d know what a tree wuz,
steda yappin about it.


I’m no tree except the part of me
as roots now new spring up among
the willows on the roadside shoots
of alder, cherry, maple runners, buds
grow at the sky from clay and gravel
daily now, each a fraction
of the snow melts up the bank
those green plum eyes seep out.



I imagine it
a memory tree
birds    in my hair
snow on the ground
the history of trees
or rocks of granite
spruce and birds
up here
the wind.



It wasn’t apple
that was cherry

branches hanging
in the window frame

apple pasture
cherry chickens


Hamill’s Last Stand (for Gladys McLeod)

Our concern is tree-murder, harvest
of the forest (she’s worried
they call it “timber”) timber sale A04292
structure wood
could be a rough political situation,
could be
we speak as trees, innocent understanding
of ourselves
as things or places too, maybe farming
but for the mess
left on the smoldering hillsides
and silting the creeks
maybe a new crop another lifetime, no core
for the names Hemlock, Balsam, Spruce
undone words from our own mouths,
no flowers anymore but
cubic feet seven million two hundred
and thirty-eight
thousand Cedar, Larch, White Bark Pine,
trunk roots and
limbs scrapped trash-wood fuel
for the bush-fires dirty
orange summer skyline, Lodgepole,
White Pine, Other
Species, in other words
strip it, all the growth
for structure wood
core of our eyes to see and say it,
won’t be taken
core of, hearts lost in the language
of public auction
only “profit” in the names, no talk
left about it, so set now
there is no argument, choices gone,
nothing left to say
Forest Ranger.



The delight of making inner
an outer world for myself
is when I tree myself
and my slight voice screams with glee to him
now preparing his craft for the Bifrost
Kerykeion he said, the shore
now a cold March mist moves
down through the cow pasture
out of the trees
among, among


All of the poems republished here are authored by Fred Wah and originally published in a collection entitled Tree (1972), from the Vancouver Community Press.

Readers can find these tree poems (and many of Wah’s other early works) in Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962-1991 (Edited by Jeff Derksen).  Now more than ever, support environmental poetry and one of its leading publishers, Talonbooks:

Photos 1, 2, and 4 are courtesy of Fred Wah. ©
Photo 3 “Logging 9831” by marcia-oc is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0