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. …"
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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.
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.