Lighter Side
February 3rd, 2003

In memory of: Brent Carlson
By Richard Curtis
Bucking across the final cattleguard
I clench my teeth firmly
Hoping to reset rattling molars
Shaken by the rusty, wretched gape
Just a hundred feet to pass
Along the rutted, rock strewn lane
Illuminated only, by amber fingers
Groping the pre-dawn duskiness
The ancient pick-up finally wheezes
And shutters to a welcome halt

Fumbling down the dampened slope
My grasps reach for aspen ballast
Wild sapling rhythms - bend and bow
Passing me to my destination
Crusts of crumpled paper ice
Crunch beneath my tread
Signaling that I've arrived upon
The Gunny's stony shore

Resting in a streamside chair
Fashioned from rough-hewn limestone slabs
Backed by an anemic, weathered post
Whose original purpose I can't even guess
Carefully assembling my -
Three piece, nine foot, four weight
Threading the flowing, tapered line
Through twists of silver wire
My nose hovers inches away
Tasks accomplished, in spite of
The anachronitisic partnership
Failing sight and practiced touch

The rod quivers, vibrant in my fist
Sufficient line is played out
Allowing me to fasten
My humble offering selected from
An old glass windowed Wheatley box
Given to a towhead youngster
By his fisher, patriarch, granddad
Whose beaming smile's been gone so long
Chores, slowed by fumbling digits
Stinging from the daybreak chill
. . .Thankfully, I'm finished

Sliding into the blackened pool
My progress slow and calculated
Thinkable, only by virtue
Of the orange sherbet glow
Gathering in the lapis heavens
Stubborn stars wink briefly
Like some barfly, hangers-on
Before being chased away
By the dawning day

Sluggishly, I find my way
Shuffling across the sandy bar
Leading to favored angling haunts
One boot placed before the other

The river summons recollections
Of fickle lovers past
Currents shifting, constantly
First, pressing relentless
Pushing me away
Towards forgotten, distant lands
Now swirling eddies relax, seductive
Inviting and enticing
Seeking deeper, raptured entanglement
. . .Onward and forget it.

Downy Cottonwood spiders
Crossing my periphery
Riding frozen, fairy light beams
Settle, tender on the sodden pane
Separating that mysterious trace
Between transparent stream and gossamer sky
Cloaked by council mountain mists
Mama Natures timely tutorial
Reminds me - what it's all about

River right, as far as eyes can see
That aspen stand by which I descended
Bathed by a fuller lamp
Now fills every mountainside
A patchwork carpet of delicate, velvet leaves
Tremble against the robust morning flutter
Underneath lurk endless legions
Sturdy, gray clad, cadets
Ranked shoulder to shoulder
Stand as silent sentinels
Poised to repel any invader
Intrepid enough to ford
The seething, headstrong Gunnison

The measured cadence now is resolute
Backwards. . .Forwards
Up and down
Painting electric arcs
Across the viscous atmosphere
False casts striking forth
And then withdrawing
Behaving like a malicious serpent
Lashing out at unseen enemies
Until, at last the steely imposter
Better temperament prevailing
Leisurely struts his feathered finery
Plying fetching, fletching wares
To hosts of unsuspecting congregate

Minutes pass
And then an hour
Practicing, patient repetition
Slugging, striving, forever upstream
For this is the only bearing needed
To entice the crafty Salmonidae

Searching ahead
Scanning the hazy, wavering horizon
Marrow of the day
Marking the point in deep midriver
Where I'll siesta for a while

Drawing nearer I'm still awed
Once again, before me stands
A majestic, abstract granite pulpit
Ascending from this shining altar
Encircled by soaring
Snowcapped cathedral walls

Circling to the dark side shadows
I scrutinize the mighty monument
Identifying secret handholds
Along its hidden passageway
They must be planned to mesh together
Like the primeval Anasazi sidewalks
Rising to the Cliff Palace city
From the brambled gorge below

Disregarding the red clay dust
That will surely coat my dripping waders
I lay prostrate on the apex
Soaking in every kelvin of pure, day-star warmth
Through the darkest, polarized Ray-Bans
My eyes still wince painfully
Full faced with such intense solar specter
Pulling myself back into my best Lazy-Boy posture
Allowing my tired head to flex rearwards
Startled, suddenly as it harmlessly strikes the rock behind
Reaching deep into my neoprenes
I locate my back jeans pocket
Plucking from that small place
A svelte but tarnished, sterling flask
Pulling from it a modest mouthful
Of Kentucky's kindest contribution
To our worried, harried world

Standing solemnly, hands resting
On the gritty banister
Bracing against stiffened, gusting breezes
Filling to capacity my aching lungs
I release my authentic wild man cry
Railing in an empty, traveling, revival tent
Modern Elmer Gantry possessed
. . .Time to go

I've must gather concentration
For this last stretch of flowage
Banal and desolate in bearing
This is where our universe transitions
Turning, every inferior meter - from
Plush, alpine meadowland to
Forsaken, lonely, high desert expanse
A whopper lie this tells
For below this drab façade - is
That special habitat that beckons
To the bigger brutes that swim.

Seeing nothing remarkable
My brain downshifts to tasks at hand
Like a well kept metronome
Arduous double hauling
Firing rangy, rocket casts
Straining, ever harder
To place the sightless arthropod
On the inconspicuous alley break
Where surging motion
Undercuts the bank
Earthen stained veils
Harboring unseen loiterers
Watchful pickpockets waiting to snatch
Unsuspecting, strolling quarry

Immediately, before the line is carried
One vast sweeping upstream mend
Setting up for a single, perfect
Long and languorous, flawless drift
The fly appears, then disappears
Over and again
Underneath the emerald tables edge
Adorned with a massive centerpiece
Undulating willows, glistening choke cherry
And pewter streaks of wild sage
Binocular vision focusing attention
On a bit of fuzzy, chartreuse yarn
Tied further up the leader
Prepares to tell the real story
Time crawls. . .squint narrows
. . .Yarn freezes!

I swiftly lift my rod on high
Far above my dusty, Filson hat
That drives the tiny Mustad home
Embedded in the Cutthroats bony jaw
Stripping madly, I must stop
That initial freight train run
Attempting to return home and break me off
In his root tangled sanctuary
But I'll force him to fight me fair
Battling on the main watercourse

Erupting from an inky sound
The furious trout, now creates
His personal, ephemeral rainbow
Water spirals fill the air
Reflecting sparkling, midmorn sun
Conjure an Olympic gymnast
On his final tumbling run
Twisting, turning, flipping, falling
Performing, seemingly adrift, aloft
O're a blue/green liquid mat

And so it goes and goes
Give and take
Blistering runs
Straining muscle
All finally, throbbingly reduced
To protracted tugs of war
The spent fish turns his conscious agent
Bring to bear – full length and breadth
Until, at last
Strength and will relinquish
And slip into the black thread net

I hold him in the frigid water
Net bound, not thrashing - quiet
Staring at me through a knowing, brilliant eye
Grasping his enormous belly

I gently lift him from his cradle
Wide eyed at the brilliant, iridescent pigments
Inspired brushstrokes that emblazon
Every inch of his very being

Regrettably, its time to bid farewell
Holding onto the thick set tail
Quivering with returning energy
I push and pull the giant submariner
Knee deep by the aggregate shore
Eventually recovered enough to pull away
From my firm but tractable clasp
Watching and watching
Not really wanting him to go
Like a child embarking, drowsy
Towards his first day at school
. . .There he goes

Sighing breaths, slowly calm me
Progressing towards a deadfall log
With a detoured, addled gait
I plop myself down upon - the
Luxurious lichen padded bench
Nostrils flare as I inhale
Savoring the mélange of delicious aromas
My thoughts suddenly, all impeccably arranged
I fumble, once again … searching
For that hip shaped metal vessel
Oak and charcoal rollsround my tongue
Compliments of Booker's single barrel
Funny, but my hand is trembling
Still slight pounding in my temples
Think I'll sit a little longer
Adding a little bourbon to the mix
Counterbalancing the adrenalin
Still coursing through my veins

The sun's crossed over to the west
As I traipse back to the truck
The mottled canopy overhead
Cooling my red and sunburned nape
Before I climb that slippery hillside

Glancing towards a flickering gesture
Accented by the sound of diminutive splashes
On a stone plays a Dipper
Water Ouzel, if you're a Brit
The ones who invented this foolishness

Its vigorous, bubbling song
Clearly audible to me
Carrying over the noisy, rushing din
As I fix my gaze upon it
I patiently wait for the impending show
For the Dippers – unlike other birds
Can fly in both mortal realms
Diving in the glassy bay
It darts from side to side
Searching for the identical morsels
Pursued by its finny brethren
Just as fast it pops right up
Momentary pecking at the ground
Abruptly, with a flick of its stubby tail
Launching, flapping, sailing away
Winging over the treetops. . .gone
Fading wing beats whisper to me

If you choose to
You can live free. ~ Richard Curtis

Other Poems:

River Bed by Dave Motes
Canyon's coming -- Gunnison by Dave Motes
The Flyline by Dave Motes
Rising Spirits by Dave Salamone
Shadow Jungle or Pike? by Dave Motes
The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop
The Ongoing Saga of Castwell and Ladyfisher by Randy Fratzke
Not My Own by Dave Salamone
Plunge Pool Brookie by Dave Motes
Breaking by Dave Motes
White Miller by John Engels
A Fisherman Reflects (A Tribute to Lee Wulff) by Bob Jacklin
Fly Box by H. Wheeler Perce
When Dreams Are Cast by Dave P. Salamone
Upon the Morn by David Salamone
The Disconnections by John Engels
Damselfly, Trout, Heron by John Engels
Why I Fly-Fish by Ernie Harrison
Oh, what a Day by David P. Salamone
Memories of More than One by David P. Salamone
Mudtrapped by John Engels
What I Leave Behind by David P. Salamone
The Way It Was by Ernie Harrison
Awakening by David P. Salamone
Eros Tyrannos by James Armstrong
Genesee River by David P. Salamone
There Is More by Ken Abrames
New York by David P. Salamone
Reflection by David P. Salamone
Last Waltz by David P. Salamone
Equanimity by Ken Abrames
Deadpool by John Engels
Fly Fishing by Tony Grenier
This Earth by Gwen Frostic
On Waters' Edge by D.P. Salamone
Truth or Tale? by D.P.Salamone
When Rod and Line Again Appear by D.P.Salamone
Too Soon by D.P.Salamone
In Golden Light by D.P. Salamone
The Switch by D.P. Salamone
At Night On The River by John Engles
Rainbows False-Spawning by John Engles
Hatch by John Engels
My Choice by Geno Loro
Falling In by John Engles
The Guardian of the Lakes at Notre Dame by John Engels
Foote Brook by John Engels
Looking For Water by John Engels
Gutting Bluefish by John Engels
The Storm by John Engles
Muskrat by John Engels
Thunder River by John Engels
Forever by D.P. Salamone
Aquarium by John Engels
Bass by Fred Mather
The Crows by John Engles
To Love a Stream by F. Thomas
Opening Day, 1997 by F.Thomas
Pewter River Haiku by Louis J. Wentz
My Highlight of Fly Fishing by D.P. Salamone
So Complicated But Simple Life by D.P. Salamone
Fly Fishing by W.J. Mallory
Here's to the Girl - by Sherman Ripley
Age Lessening by D.P. Salamone
Spring Fever by AF Westervelt
FlyTying by W.J. Mallory
FAOL Fish-In Friendship by D.P. Salamone
Acronyms by D.P. Salamone
Signs of a Highway by W.J. Mallory
Drift Fishing by W.J. Mallory
A Hunters Poem unknown
In Flander's Fields by John McCrae
Lonesome Coho by W.J. Mallory
The Marshes At Suamico, Wisconsin by John Engles
East Middlebury by John Engles
The Raft by John Engles
Eternal Father (Navy Hymn)
Pilgrimage by John Engles
Testament of a Fisheman by Robert Traver
At Night On the Lake In The Eye of the Hunter by John Engles
Indulgence on the Wharfe by Gordon M. Wickstrom
G     n Creek by W.J. Mallory
The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yates
The Au Sable by W.J. Mallory
You're On the Miramichi by William T. Griffin
The Photograph by John Engles
Flye Fishing by L A Garcia
Green Bay Flies by John Engles
T.R.O.U.T. by DP Salamone
Beyond The Fly by DP Salamone
Hemingway, You Old Bear by Joseph Heywood
Individuality by Gwen Frostic
Wa'al I'll be Durn by Francis H. Buzzacott
The Salmon Leap by Francis H. Buzzacott
The Old Bass Ground by Francis H. Buzzacott
When the Bull-Heads Bite by Francis H. Buzzacott
A Photo of My Mother and My Grandpa Lighting Out by John Engles
The Last Day by Deanna Lee Birkholm
The North Branch by John Engles
A Military Christmas unknown
Calendar-spring by David Motes
The Fly Box by John Engles
Game Warden's Lament
author unknown
Big Water by John Engles
The Best Kept Fishing Secret by Andy Hogan
While fly-fishing by Brian Nerney
On Common Water by Andy Hogan
The Last Cast by Andy Hogan
(unknown) by Alfred Lord Tennison
A Good Fight by Andy Hogan
The Bonny Red Heckle North Country Fisher's Garland
This Here Hat's Fer Fishin by Andy Hogan
Un-named By Westwood
Potomac Water Gap by David Motes
More Beyond Time by Gwen Frostic
Grasshopper-hands by David Motes
When Did We Go To The Michigan Woods? by Anna C. Brackett
Behold the Fisherman! unknown
Freedom Isn't Free unknown
From: Beyond Time By Gwen Frostic
Legend of Glooskap By Arthur Wentworth Eaton
Rainbow Rising By David Motes
Fly With A Gull By Gwen Frostic
Self-Knowledge By Kahlil Gibran
The Invitation By Percy Bysshe Shelley
Untitled By Charles Cotton
A Pleasant Time Out By Stoddard
The Brook By Lord Tennyson
Unnamed By W.Pinkerton
The Auld Fisher's Farewell to the River Coquet By Thomas Doubleday
Excerpt from Beyond Time By Gwen Frostic
Words You Never Tell a Guide By Joseph Haywood
Mind Farts & Memory Exercises By Joseph Haywood
First Night at Camp Fish Head By Joseph Haywood
I Am the Flag of the United States of America
Untitled By Whitier
The Fisherman By Jack Schweigert
Retail Night Before Christmas By Al Campbell
Splitting Oak on Mother’s Day By Joe Heywood
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fly Rod By Eugena Pilek
In Flanders Fields By John McCrae
Fisherman's Luck By Edward R. Hewitt
Happy Turkey Day By Al Campbell
The Story of The Christmas Guest By Helen Steiner Rice
Fishing By Edith Andrews Sturgis
August 25, 1971 - Jocko River above Arlee, Montana By Brian Ahern
Mr. Cortland By Cole Martin
Fishing By Edith Andrews Sturgis
A Midwinter Reflection By Russ Larsen (Bassbugg)
Christmas Bells By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Trout Angler's Prayer At Christmas By Reverend Daniel P. Adams
An Old Scottish Poem
Voices in the Wall, Requiem 3 By Stev Lenon
In Honor of Memorial Day 2006
Little Brown Wink By G.E.M. Skues
In Flanders Fields By John McCrae
The Little Things By Richard A. (Dick) Taylor

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