jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “Fishing”

I left my phone charging back home


my father grew up near the spoon river
[named after a fictional illinois town]
and only lately have I wondered
if as a boy he’d fish for channel cat there
something he loved to do in his retirement
at lock and dam 14 on the mississippi

here I stand hundreds of miles away
casting my line into the wapsipinicon
[named by the chippewa after aquatic
plants they called ‘swan potatoes’]
my eyes focused on the shiny spinner
my mind rewinding and fast forwarding

I’ve caught and released countless cat
this hot and humid july afternoon
summer sun finally muted by the treeline
a subtle reminder that despite the heat
relief will eventually come my way
as I retrace ten thousand steps back home




july two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

breaking bread on a sunday evening


don’t lose faith she said
[one of her favorite things to say]
your time will come
just you wait and see

to be honest I wasn’t
looking for any time
but I must confess
a little space would do
perhaps a cottage
on the edge of town
or houseboat on the cedar

they’ll be no fishing tomorrow
she reminded me
[and I assented silently]
what with the moon hiding
and the river rising

and so for another night
supper will be limited
a slice of bread lightly toasted
and a glass or two
of monastery wine





march two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

an act of exposition


it was a matter of time that your life
became mainly a flashback
like a character in a dickens novel
stretched thin on a cold march day

it was a matter of time recollecting
faded images of a former self
one plodding alongside trout stream
aided by spear tipped hiking stick

it was a matter time accepting
the thought of looking back
plunging the blade through the ice
shattering what was once indestructible
and exposing a brand new world




february two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a day on fictitious lake


she’s pleaded to tag along
and the boys reluctantly agreed
the five of us stuffed inside
my lime green hatchback

fictitious lake was frozen solid
a good eight plus inches thick
perfectly capable of supporting
whatever weight we might carry

checklist included four-man tent
rods and reels and ice auger
life vests and assortment of jigs
5-gallon bucket and case of beer

there must be a rainbow somewhere
she said as the boys drilled into the ice
multi-color parasol above her head
designer aviators shielding her eyes




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sharing the wealth we possess


we fished off the docks
overcast sunday morning
praying for a break

weatherman says
tomorrow should be better
once churchgoers
and earthworms are all
back at work

most of us don’t
give a damn
about day jobs or night life
let alone the cost of
living or dying

river keeps calling
finding ourselves responding
come rain or come shine




november two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

ones that got away


there was fish in the basement freezer
bluegills caught in the mississippi
taken home and cleaned
filleted and carefully placed in ziplocs
each dated by way of sharpie

each day a story unto itself
each story a small piece of the life
and times of a solitary man
long removed from
an ordinary working life

if you don’t move you will die
he told his son
carefully stepping down the stairs
unlocking freezer door with key
he kept hanging on a nail
fearful the fish might one day escape
and find their way back home




september two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

bay fishing


we sat on the dock
feet dangling and bobbers
bobbing atop quiet wakes
ushered in by a dying sun
succumbing to giant moon

we spoke occasionally
about deficits and taxes and
royal weddings
steering clear of world wars
and foreign matters

for the most part though
we kept the conversation
to a minimum
drinking the king’s ale
waiting for mackerel to strike




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

twelve pound test line


sitting on narrow part of bridge
we fish from the bottom
at three-thirty in the morning
having closed the bars
we now chat side by side
unexpectedly witnessing
waxing moon blooming

while most people dream
we resume this conversation
started decades ago
at last coming to a head
suddenly realizing
past years made no sense
and most likely never will




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all right reserved

Fishing trip


We’re supposed to be on the road by now
but Ted can’t seem to find the car keys
and DeSalvo’s rolling joints in the next room
sitting Indian style in the loveseat

I’m busy stuffing my backpack with
chocolate bars and graham crackers
and marshmallows and assortment
of individual servings of breakfast cereals
and Frito Lay snacks

Ted is arguing with his folks who
never seem to grow old
his mother with a dirty dishrag in her hand
his father smoking Marlboro Reds
and lambasting his son for chores undone

I’m in the garage now
stocking the cooler with Bud heavy
and whole milk and boxes of Sunny D
carton of 18 raw eggs and Oscar Mayer bacon

Let’s go let’s go I yell but nobody hears me
DeSalvo’s now out of my sight
most likely licking the edge of the rolling paper
eyes smiling and marveling
at his own imperfections

Hey Ted where the hell’s the ice I yell
but I don’t think he heard me
but I do think I heard his dad slap him
upside his head

Finally he comes out all red faced
DeSalvo right behind him smiling
checking his pants for a Bic lighter

Everything okay I ask
Yeah Ted says let’s get the fuck out of here
we’re taking the Lincoln Continental




march two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

catch and release


the weather turned midday
as a warmish sun gave way
to coldish clouds and variable winds

nearly knee deep in blackish
backwaters
rainbow trout suddenly start
striking at mini-jigs

hand and eye react instinctively
despite scattered thoughts
racing past
slippery rocks in river bed

patience is like an acquired taste
(you tell yourself)
best served in solitary confines

the cool waters gradually
drop in temperature
yet you continue to wade
further away
dead set on an eddying pool
silently calling your name



november two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

white flags and civil wars


it’s only a matter of time
before the next city gets sacked

it could be yours whether or not
you like being alive or dead

you could be sitting in a mosque
or a church or a temple
or in a gazebo in a meadow
or on a deck overlooking a lake
or out on the river fishing for trout
or out on the sea fishing for men
or inside a corner tavern
open for business on any given sunday

everywhere there are people
inhabiting this place
putting two and two together
questioning the laws of nature
ninety-nine plus percent certain
killing has nothing to do with survival



september two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

emerald green are the waters


jesus wasn’t with us that day
we caught all the shrimp
he was inland teaching the little ones
how to set their sights

the wind was friendly that day
and by the time we pulled in
the sublime sun reflected off
limp sails onto gentle wakes

in the evening we all gathered
eating and drinking and listening
to all the old stories
the ones certain to be retold and
rewritten for centuries to come




Photograph by Catherine Grosskopf (click to enlarge)


june two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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