Catch and Release

June 29, 2013

Our words seem to form in the clouds,
like rain against the weeds,
for they are still tied to the land,
and they insist that water is a metaphor.

So when a frog jumps clear,
the sound echoes so sweetly in
the lake, it might be a huge
illusion, its allure, a bell of thought.

The fish strikes. A bass, glistening,
a line runs out, taut and miraculous.
The fish has caught nothing more than
a nest of hooks, our lure.

More than that—
Poor thing, how could it not
know that it was meant
to leave existence today?

It weighed two pounds, three ounces, dead.
Alive, its life was as long as
a pencil’s width, or a crayon, smudged
blood-red and submerged, and lost—

The solemn food, our words for them are
words in salute to the clouds. We praise them
so the fish will spawn again. All clouds end in rain,
and rain is tears. The earth fulfills .

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8 Responses to “Catch and Release”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    It is extremely hot here, too. But I’m right next to my favourite body of water, Georgian Bay, Ontario, and swimming as often as I can — no slippery fish, just water snakes!! I’m about to catch up here on your work.

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Hi Anna: Sorry I’m a little slow in getting back to you on this one. No excuses-but the heat is wearing my down. 90,95 every day. I should go on as fishing trip.
    Yes, I’m proud of ‘a bell of thought’. It spreads out into a lot things it could be–a bell you ring, a glass dome, a diving bell, something that encloses thought, etc.
    ‘Hard to hold onto’ may be one of my goals in writing this stuff. I’m not so sure I know why this is–except that everything is hard to hold onto.. And it came to pass–not stay.

  3. Anna Mark Says:

    Hi Jim. I’ve read this poem a number of times now and find it striking, especially the end. It is full of puzzles like John says but wonderfully so…a bell of thought! I see the ripples. I like how the first stanza and the last stanza tie us to the earth, the land and how everything in between feels like watery illusion, something slippery, hard to hold onto. Our solemn food. Death appears in many of your poems and here it is, too…and rain is tears, the earth fulfills. A rain poem, a water poem…cycle of life poem.

  4. John Stevens Says:

    I believe you, buddy, I believe you … now, it’s your round I think …

  5. extrasimile Says:

    John, a couple of thoughts. Keep in mind we’re on a fishing expedition here—which strikes me as being as good a metaphor for a poem as there is. Why didn’t I think of this before? The line(s) thus do function as something to cast about, and to tie things together. It lets us toss the frog lure in to the lake (when I was a kid we called it a hula-popper): that is to say a fake frog. How far should you take the idea that words are (like)water? Sit back, sir, and let me tell you about the fish I almost caught…the one that got away… three feet long… near ripped the poled out of my hands…

  6. John Stevens Says:

    Hello Jim. A longer poem than usual from you and with a little more room to explore. As usual it is full of ambiguities and puzzles – how far are we meant to take that metaphor of rain for words, for instance? But I love the play with water: from clouds and rain, to the frog and fish in the lake – and the tears too.
    And knowing you, I’m sure your mention of the fisherman’s line was intentionally a reminder of the line in poetry.
    I’ll let the words plop and swish in my mind for a bit.

  7. extrasimile Says:

    Hotspur?
    But thoughts, the slaves of life, and life, time’s fool,
    And time, that takes a survey of all the world,
    Must have a stop.

    That Hotspur?
    The comparison is a little grand, to be sure, but… it sort of looks nice on the page, doesn’t it? At least, no one was planning on eating Hotspur.
    I looked briefly at your poetry…there is clearly similarities there. I’ll look further over the next few days. Thanks for sharing your thoughts (even if they are the slaves of life).

  8. Yu Chen Says:

    The dead fish reminds me a bit of the dead Hotspur: “When that this body did contain a spirit / A kingdom for it was too small a bound, / But now two paces of the vilest earth / Is room enough.”


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