Tag Archives: poem

ALIVE ON ARRIVAL

this road begs a truck and a full tank of gas   windows down   tire-tread serenade   humidity and cool 4 a.m. headlights   bugs on the windshield   life unfolding on long-haul canvas   whitetails from low rolling fog   this all-night mind   this morning is water   truck packed for one or the other   the first spill of purple orange purple   a truck and full tank of gas begs for nothing   when the sun comes up it’ll only be up for so long   fish rising in their own universe   the stars hold what they’ve got   I close my eyes and see a barn and woods   wing-set geese   a river or lake painted into the distant hills   I open them and see fields and a single cow meandering to its day   this morning is woods   I push on

the first spill of purple orange purple   whitetails from low rolling fog   I close my eyes and see a barn and woods   this road begs a truck and a full tank of gas   this morning is water   a river or lake painted into the distant hills   bugs on the windshield   wing-set geese   I open them and see fields and a single cow meandering to its day   life unfolding on long-haul canvas   when the sun comes up it’ll only be up for so long   a truck and full tank of gas begs for nothing   fish rising in their own universe   this morning is woods   humidity and cool 4 a.m. headlights   tire-tread serenade   truck packed for one or the other   the stars hold what they’ve got   windows down   this all-night mind   I push on

I close my eyes and see a barn and woods   I open them and see fields and a single cow meandering to its day   a river or lake painted into the distant hills   the first spill of purple orange purple   wing-set geese   when the sun comes up it’ll only be up for so long   this morning is water   fish rising in their own universe   this morning is woods   whitetails from low rolling fog   truck packed for one or the other   the stars hold what they’ve got   humidity and cool 4 a.m. headlights   windows down   bugs on the windshield   tire-tread serenade   this road begs a truck and a full tank of gas   a truck and full tank of gas begs for nothing   life unfolding on long-haul canvas   I push on

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Filed under Poetry, The road

MORNING BROWNS WITH DAD, Installment 6, Thesis

* The 6th installment in a series of sections from my Masters thesis, which was (in large part) about fishing.

[20]

Villager Restaurant. 5:30 a.m.
Laminated breakfast menus. Short lived eggs, toast, sausage—coffee-to-go, toothpicks by the register.

We head to the bait shop for sawbellies, a wriggling handful of bump & tick in our aluminum bait bucket. Slight lapping of water against marina-moored boats, footsteps echo quietly on the dock.

Wind & engine, water & shoreline, we nose a white V out onto Canandaigua Lake. Bare Hill a hunched silhouette above black trees under the dawn sky.

5, 10, 15 minutes. The boat slows to an idle, settling into the dark water toward the south end. Ears ringing from sudden silence. I stir my hand into the flipping mass of minnows, lift a chubby sawbelly, its head in my palm, tail wagging from between my thumb & forefinger, mouth gaping a small o. My tackle box holds a snelled double hook & black bait-threading needle.

I cast my line.
Bait & bobber end-over-end then plop onto the surface.

We sit quietly, sipping our coffee. The sawbelly swims random circles three feet below a barely tipping bobber. Shore is now slightly visible. Trees, rocks, cottages through mist clinging to the water’s surface. A loon’s cry drifts across the lake. Another answers, closer.

The bobber disappears for a moment, then follows the bait & fish, trickling, bouncing the surface for thirty yards, forty, fifty, then stops. I wait. The fish flexes its jaw, exhales the stunned bait for a moment, circles to swallow it head first. The idle bobber springs to life again.

The line sings its tense song. Sunrise has cleared Bare Hill.
I reel. Dad waits with net in hand.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water, Poetry

SOMETIMES

SOMETIMES

We climb out of the dark for sunrise,
into night from the evening.
Somewhere in there
the fish bite.

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Filed under On the water, The road

A BOY’S FISHING ROUTE, Installment 5, Thesis

[2]

I.

Not yet sun-up. 10-speed with fishing pole across the handlebars. Tackle box in backpack. Maybe a snack. Maybe some paper route money.

Before Holiday Harbour bush-hogged lots for custom homes, paved cul-de-sacs & dredged weedbeds & structure from the channel, I’d follow a path on my 10-speed through twisted old cottonwood, hip-to-chest-tall broad-grass, cattails, willows & swampy peat moss & an occasional empty twelve pack of Milwaukee’s Best. Through the cottonwood & willows, I’d step onto the pebbled beach across from Squaw Island. Even after folks moved into the custom homes, I was there & gone before most were up to start their days.

At the pier I’d park my bicycle out front of Seager Marina, walk on the heavy & worn wood dock past the open bay of slung boats under repair above oil-soaked floors, engine parts hanging from hooks on the walls, the bait counter & minnow tanks where dad & I always got a couple dozen sawbellies for trout fishing at the south end of the lake. There is no fishing allowed from their docks today. Too many styrofoam cups empty of worms, candy bar wrappers, tangles of fishing line & plastic bags & soda cans & cigarette butts.

II.

Roseland Bowl was straight down Lakeshore Drive then & Roseland was across from that until it closed & left the bowling alley to face a couple handfuls of blacktopped & chain-linked lake view. It didn’t take long for the park to be dismantled after it closed. The horses from the carousel were sold at auction & now run circles to airy organ music in a mall in Syracuse. The Skyliner was one of the oldest wooden roller coasters left in the country before it came down. The haunted house ride scared the hell out of me. My granddad worked on the midway. He died when my dad was young. I once caught a twenty-three inch lake trout with my bare hand in the cove that the gondola ride had spanned. The empty lot was too damn full of ghosts. I didn’t fish there but a couple times.

III.

There was another world behind the bowling alley. The water was guarded by cattails & tall grass, mosquitoes & mucky shores. It twisted around to circle within itself, like the ox-bows of the Mississippi or the meandering Oswegatchie. Bass were hard caught & fewer here, but giants. Thirty & forty pound carp would roll themselves up in the weeds & suck bugs off the surface.

The old wood bridge that linked the back parking lot of the alley to the old water-park site was still in good enough shape to cross or spot fish from. The small beach below the near side of it, where the ticket shack for the old paddle boat rentals stood, was always good for a couple deep-bellied bass & always with a red devil spoon.

I’d fish through the hottest part of the day, when cicadas rattle in the trees & hoppers leap twenty or thirty feet from your steps. I’d cast & wander & cast & cast & would hear nothing from the civilized world. Nothing from the bowling alley, nothing from the Burger King, nothing from Lakeshore Drive or 5 & 20, nothing from swimming kids at Kershaw park.

Eventually, Roseland Bowl moved behind Wal-Mart. Eventually, Lakeshore Drive was moved five hundred yards to the north. Eventually, expensive summer homes were built.

I was the entire civilized world in a pair of Converse All-Stars, cut-offs & tank top.
I was the entire world before civilization.
I was a fishing pole & ten-speed bicycle.
I was old cottonwood & custom homes.
I was early morning & the smell of oil & boat fuel.
I was carp & hard fought bass & I was horses up for auction.
I was the hottest part of the day & I was Burger King.
I was all seasons & all places.
I was all people & all animals.
I was the I of the world.

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Filed under On the water, Poetry

TIME ON THE WATER

mornings like this
remind me that there is more

the world goes on and on
forever around the next bend

the next draw or downed tree
it’s own universe alive and unsolved

there is no possibility like this
to stand for a moment or longer

cast after cast an admission
how small a space my breath occupies

the sun follows its own arc behind the clouds
deliberate as my line now taut in the current

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Filed under On the water