Walleye Chop

[initial late-night jot]

the minnows are flown in to camp
on a single-prop sea-plane and
kept aerated in an open-top
Coke machine. At dawn I go
get a dozen or two, depending on
how well we hope to fish.
The wind is good for walleye
who hunt in muddy water and
are themselves hunted
by me. I take off my glove
and thrust my hand into the minnow
bucket, grabbing a handful
and letting all but the fattest
swim free. Hook through open
mouth and secured through the
thin calcified bone of its head,
twisted, secured again through
the spine and finally put in
the water. Routine. I wipe a bit of
blood on a towel
smelling like a week of fish slime
tug my glove on with my teeth
dream of dry feet and torn aluminum
with mushrooms, peppers, and
a bit of fish. if i’m lucky.

[v 1.0]

The minnows are aerated in an antique
Coke machine. At dawn I get
a dozen or two, it’s hope,
not necessity.
Lake-wind
is good for walleye,
hunting in muddy water-
themselves hunted
by me.
I take off my glove
thrust into the minnow
bucket, clutch a handful
and let all but the fattest
swim free.
Then routine hook
through open mouth,
barb-puncture the
calcified bone of its skull-
twist, secure again through
the spine. I wipe a bit of
blood on a towel covered
in a week’s accretion of fish slime
tug my glove on with my teeth,
turn my back to the wind.

[v 2.0]

These Canadians keep their minnows aerated
in a rusting Coke machine. At dawn I get
a dozen or two, for hope, not necessity. Lake-wind, good for walleye,
searches my pockets

a gloveless
thrust into the minnow
bucket, barb-puncture its skull-

twist, secure again through
the spine. I wipe a bit of
blood on a towel heavy with

a week’s accretion of fish slime.
tug my gloves on with my teeth,
turn my back to the wind.


This is another poem I’ve been working on for quite some time. It just isn’t falling together, and doesn’t have the strong resolution I like my poems to contain. I can still read it and see the seeds of something that needs said, but I can’t figure out what that something is. I hate when that happens.