poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “Fishing”

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
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

pretending to be understood

he found himself often
talking to himself and others
at the tavern
where bartenders were able
to read his mind
through a silent language
or some other nuance

he loved to talk sports and politics
religion and economics
no topic too toxic for his liking
quick as a flash he was
and sharp as a tack
there was no disputing
his tongue never got drunk

everyone knew he made
a living catching fish
you could smell it on his breath
beneath the whiskey
underneath the fluency of romantic
languages he often
inserted into his american english

poetry is of no importance
he often told his listeners
even if there wasn’t anyone
but he would continue on anyway
telling the story of the love of his life
a mermaid from the mediterranean
who indiscreetly broke his heart

and the bartender would nod
and pour something neat
between them

“aye you are johnny on the spot”
he would say
“despite my inconsistencies you’ve
always managed to understand me”

february two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Tilapia Galilaea

At home in the sea
he embeds himself inside cedar planks
contoured and shallow and
pieced together by artisan mariners
who row and chant
a square canvass hoisted high
harnessing the wind atop low tides

Calling into the waves
his mesmerizing cries enchant
Saint Peter’s fishes
swarming and succumbing and blessed
to be inside the netting
hurriedly emptied into the boat
and saved by the grace of God

december two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

waiting to be born

we worked both sides of the stream
looking for deep pools to cast our souls

it was late september and a cool breeze
had gradually reddened your cheeks

we had strolled along for an hour now
stopping on two occasions
enticing brown trout to strike live bait

filtered light shone through a network
of ripened limbs losing their luster
revealing a part of you I had never seen

without saying a word we picked up
our things and moved on empty-handed

over the years the stream had changed
but over my lifetime remained the same

looking back I spotted a young me
pretending to be someone I was not
catching my limit in very short order

little did I know you were always near
guiding me back to this solitary place
years before you were meant to be born

december two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

saving the next city

how many miles we traveled
far from shore I do not know
the early morning city lights
flickering atop gentle waves
skyscrapers sinking into their
self-induced holes as
madmen rush to resurrect them

the fish were striking at an incredible
pace and the captain had trouble
resetting all the downriggers
while house flies persistently bit
the whitest of legs
reminding the youngest of men
everything comes with a price

at the end of the day as the boat
drifted back to shore
there were no women or children
welcoming them back home

there were no lights
no music streaming from pipes

but the streets
the streets they were weeping
streets littered by madmen
already destroying the next city

june two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

jesus from tokyo

I saw jesus on tokyo bay
speaking spanglish and
directing fishing boats
like a venerable traffic cop

dressed in seamless jeans
and oversized shirt
he unveiled the sun with his hands
welcoming all to follow in his wake

docking close to disney at night
the city prefect greeted him with
flowers and rings and keys
proceeding to escort his entourage
to the enchanted tiki room

swapping stories and feasting
on the day’s catch
tourists gradually gathered round
sampling the uncooked bounty
imported from half a world away

april two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

fishing with jesus

sometimes I just cry myself to sleep
when I think about all the things
I’m gonna miss about this place
I told jesus
as we sat on the rocks
casting our lines out into the sea
neither of us worrying
whether or not there was fish to catch

june two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how deep is the sea

sitting cross-legged on the floor
my mind shut the door
and i was left alone
in the dark
with a candle and a match

i closed my eyes and focused
on a fire burning in the belly
of a giant fish that swallowed me whole
delivering me to unfathomable depths
where indescribable creatures
ruled an invisible world

as ocean waves crashed on top of me
the door violently swung open
and the room became drenched
with natural light
my hand still holding
the unlit match
the candle
nowhere to be found

january two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

breaking the silence

it was the silence he said
that rocked his world
giving him thoughtful insight
into the universe

i thought that sounded nice
so i ordered another round
and asked him to feed me more

he said god would visit him often
while fishing the deep pools
lock and dam fourteen created
near the banks of the mississippi

it was there when the whole world
slept that catfish after catfish
struck his line
breaking the silence
and exorcising
the demons
planted inside him centuries ago
by a paranoid church and state

i leaned back in the barstool
and nodded my head
drawing smoke to my lungs
curiously asking him
about the bait he used
as the bartender yelled
‘last call’

december two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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