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.

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