Rich Levy

I don’t know how I got there but there I was
stuck in a murky passage

and when I turned from the page no image held,
nothing adhered. The language I waded in—

a few lines about fishing
in an almost translucent light,

in the speckled shallows where the prize lunkers
lie and wait—made me wish for less, revealed

something about light, as if
it stood for so much—our bodies,

for instance, these john-boats
that burn with appetite. Against my will

I reeled the page in, tangled mesh of stops,
because something inside me signaled

like a smallmouth hooked
in the pencil reeds, beautiful as it

leaves the water and fouls the line
against death. Sometimes

when the line breaks I am relieved.
Sometimes I sweat or grow thirsty.

Sometimes the pressure of flesh
on flesh or the cushion of lips

against my lips reminds me that fineness
fails in the end, that, clannish, we take in

what speaks our tongue, what is like us,
and that the choosing of words

in this shallow of steel hooks, soft
bottoms, and sweet bait is vanity.

Poems used with permission of the authors, and may not be re-used without their permission.