|Oct/Nov 2004 • Poetry|
Another year older to shoulder, co-soldier, dear friend,
another year shot like the rest.
I've seen even the best
laid flat like this in the end for lack of an age-proof vest,
but, still, a year is a year, and even dearer the nearer the trenches:
the plastic bottles of pills,
the changing of wills,
the afternoons spent lolling on city park benches (move over,
Rover, I got me a nickel bag of cracked-corn birdfeed to boot!).
I call it my B-Day-Fred,
the beachhead. The drafted days
lay wounded and worn with their weeks out of whack,
artillery sounds in the distance, and the ground shakes
as shell after shell
unfolds me a hell of regret
and unintended, unforeseen, and unresolved mistakes.
The picture here is clear, but Smoky, I've got to be blunt.
Let's ship out the dead
and keep movin' ahead.
It's still a minefield here, but it's no longer the front.
"THE MOST ATTRACTIVE FISH LURE ANY ANGLER EVER CAST"
Smoky, the water was murky, the tide—could you guess?—
was ever so low, and the rest
of my 10 lb test, I confess,
was uselessly coiled on shore. It had been, furthermore,
almost forever since I'd felt a bob on the line or a sign,
a hint of a bite, and I
was doubting if it came again
that I would even get the reeling in right. So I was tired,
and sore, and sitting there in the setting sun I'd figured
my license had either expired
or there wasn't much worth
castin' my sorry-ass line in the water in the first place for.
So what could I do but reel it on in and get ready to go?
But then I—your
felt something on the line was pulling me out real slow.
I won't rock the boat, Smoke. I can't see what's leading me,
but it is there, I know.
Whether I like it or not,
I'm downright caught. And I ain't never gonna let go.