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Bahamacon 2018




Flats on a windless day, bow

a window into the world


the sun rides my shoulders like a yolk

as push pole burrows into sand and clay


along the mangrove edge of sea.

Bonefish make the reel sing


but barracuda make me scream

as they shred poppers and twist


wire tippet into curly q’s, twirl through

the air or sulk against reefs, smoking


packs of jacks and needle fish, blunt

my sense of purpose to do anything


in life except for search out shapes

among a thousand blues and greens.




It’s lights out at Cuda City, the way

a two by four named Isabel breaks skull


to still a wicked mouth to feed a family to

throw a bar-b-que to fill a freezer.


Always there are fish to eat.

Always there are fish to be eaten.


It must feel good to be surrounded

by so much food: the conch, the mahi,


the ahi, the snapper. But it is barracuda

Tori likes most. And barracuda


Isabel is reserved for. For barracuda

are the bane of appendages wrapped in gold


and silver wrist bands. And barracuda

like airplanes launching from runways.


And barracuda who go shopping each day

through supermarket flats. And barracuda


who will eat other barracuda without

a second thought. The only sense a barracuda


makes is the sense you impose on them:

out of necessity to restore your shaking hands.

The Power Lung Kid


At 8:30 a.m., the Power Lung Kid knocks at my trailer door. I'm eating Lucky Charms, staring out the window at the low-slung volcanic rock and aspens that rise into the ponderosa, spruce and fir of south-central Oregon.


"You know why I'm called the Power Lung Kid?" he asks, leaning back in his chair.


"No," I say, doubting it's because he's a cross-country runner.


"It's because I can take a hit so big it can fill up the entire room," he says.


I take another bite of Lucky Charms.


"From a big ol' snake bong," he adds, "with a snake running all up the side, with three different chambers that hold water, and you take the hit through the snake's mouth. And yesterday –– yesterday my buddies, Wolf and Bud, decided they would take me with them to make a sale, since it's always a little bit safer to have a kid along. …"


(click on the link/title for the whole article)

Evening Hatch

I wear my trouser cuffs rolled up, their bottoms wet with river water
because it is nearing dusk and I’ve snuck away.
My silk tie is about to fall from my pocket and wrap around the branches
of a downed tree. I’m not going to notice, and I won’t miss it
as it shreds in the current over months like a windsock.
And yes my shoes, submerged, will smell all year of mud.

But here I am anyway, casting at dusk, while off in the distance the clink
of glasses as the bride and groom move between tables.
Here, the wandering edge of riffle, so close, and the towering cottonwoods,
so close, and the boulders breaking current and the current exposing boulders
in the wash of white water I can only see out of the corner of my eye.

I drift back to the big white tent, emerging at the father daughter dance.
And although I ditched my fly rod at the spruce
the world is noticeably different and the world notices it is different
as I walk in wet shoes across the room, as if I were tracking flour
from a broken pantry door. Someone slaps me on the back.
My cuffs, unrolled now. The world tastes like honey.

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