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Fishing for Poetry

“Let the memory strike as you draw on it”

Eric Francavilla

on 6 May 2010

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Transcript of Fishing for Poetry

Featured Poems Lost in the Tri-Cities

A felled tree blocks the path ahead,
though I remember the way clear not long ago,
the sun bleached trunk has rested for ages,
preserved in this dry valley of time…

This must be the place,
the one we find while seeking another,
or exploring the new,
this indirect destination.

I am skirting the Yakima, its current
heard to the north, from all other directions
I am boxed in—
the trail of Columbus scales the cliffs
due south, met by roads, grey scars
due east and west,
of this I know from memory,
like the sounds of cars that do not reach
my ears, instead the breeze
hisses through golden reeds, I see
the sun bleeding through the walls of trees
around me, faintly such that I am surrounded
by humble shadows and a faint glow.

Already the winding way that led me here,
the time of day,
length of travel,
fades from my mind,
soon will my very name, for I am finally
here, at the destination which can be as hard to find
as is to escape,
I must be lost.

Fishing for Poetry "Let the memory struggle as you draw on it" Fishing for Poetry

Wear neutral colors,
Approach the mind calmly, slowly,
Morphing yourself into the folds of nature.

Decide where the currents of cold, clear memory
Are likely to harbor a hungry dream,
Waiting for an appealing meal to drift by.

Cast past your mark, lest you scare it,
Test the words far from your quarry,
Let the current carry your probing lure across its path,

—Let the memory strike—
Anticipating that moment is like predicting the future,
The signs are not clear until the aftermath.

Still, when that moment strikes,
Keep the line tight but do no tug,
The line will only snap.

Let the memory struggle as you draw on it,
Calmly walking along the banks,
Down stream where you ready the net.

When the thing has settled in your hands,
Look on it for the first time,
See how it gleams –did you imagine it so?

Remember, the poem is a tired thing,
So raw, so wild, this living memory,
Which has come too far to die now.

Instead, gently let it back into the stream to grow,
And someday,
For you to catch again.

I am Dog

I say, let the sun rise
So I may see my world
Between the unscalable shrubs
Of east and west
The great fence overlooking the southern badlands
(Where strays and cats are banished)
And north, the monument erected
For my benefit
From which my humble servants
Dart off to distant worlds
And bring me
Delicious treats and squeaky toys—
I am their master

Sure, I may look the lesser
But all those who draw near
Scamper away at my most ferocious
Thundering voice
No bird, no cat, no rubber ball is safe
In my kingdom

My two legged slaves
Do the most wonderful of tricks
At my bark and call
Fill my water dish
Fetch my toy
Scratch my belly when I roll over
Yeah, that’s the spot
It’s good to be the almighty
Such is my domain
And it is good
For I am Dog


Elusive stag,
As a boy I first spotted you in the open field,
Hastily fired my arrow,
A glancing blow,
And have stalked you ever since,
Unable to rid my mind of the smell of your blood.

My hand dips into the quiver again,
Draws my last arrow,
A dried, oak shaft,
Smooth and worn from age,
Still lively enough for this last spring,
Fury coiled in arm and bow,
Leaping into the gusty keening,
My arrow pierces ethereal air,
Suspends in its grip,
My last flight,
A blink like the rest,
Compared to the eternal hunt.

I come for your,
Elusive stag,
Allow me this final feast,
Forgive me this savage taking,
So that I may take in your blood and body,
A place for rest,
A place for my last arrow.

Fly Fishing

I wear my waders,
A life jacket and rucksack,
With boxes and bottles,
Of flies, lures, pliers, scissors, and line.

A paper sack holds a single ham sandwich,
A thermos holds a day’s worth of coffee.

I carry an eight foot rod,
Conducting its length brutally,
Flaying the air with short whips,
And zipping the line like an angry stream of bees.

My mind tells me “don’t snap it”
I tell my mind “don’t think”

I release myself with every smooth breath,
Cast it off with the line,
Until my mind sees from a greater distance,
From the point of the sun or sky,

I look down at the panning, clay earth,
The crystal stream lazily etching past.

I see not the fisherman and his gear,
The river runs through were I stand,
As if I knew no body,
My soul composed of the calm flow of the river. The perfect cup of tea

Warmth starts,
At the tips of my fingers,
Spreads deep into my palms as I embrace the earthen cup.

From the hue of brown
I picture shadow-green leaves,
Twigs tinged red at their peaks.

The mist drifts into my nostrils,
Lingering along the front of my mind,
Carrying it gently like dew on clouds.

As I sip,
I sink,
To the back of my mouth,
Down the throat,
Into the cradle of my chest,
Eyes and shoulders ease.

Warmth for a moment,
Dispels shivers,
Evokes a quiver.

And at last my toes curl,
In blissful tranquility,
As I transcend the body.


And a shunting pop—
—slam of the microwave door.

A deep clink of earth ware,
Against the marble counter,
A hiss as the tea-bag sinks,

We wait,
Impatiently pat-pat-pacing,
Drumming fingers on the counter,
Counting 30, 29, 28—

—hearing everything.

Then suddenly,
Nothing but the faint dribble-drip,
—the soft, spongy tea-bag removed—
And a whimsical chime
—as skin gently rhymes off the bell like cup—
Echoing into silent,

Crohn’s Disease

Down on my knees,
I worship you, oh devil
Who has cursed me with this torment,
Left me fearfully clawing at my smooth, flush navel,
Ripping at the black oily chords beneath,
Intestines composed of hissing sinew,
Foul food and flesh—
As one, urgently expelled,
Purged from my system,
Leaving the weak husk that I am to crawl away,
Reduced to a writhing maggot,
My shadow an odor of corrosive disease,
Stalking me down the dark, descending hall.

Look how life spills
from you, how you contort,
Your frail face fills, fractures
with burning tears.

You know better than to lose
control, get a hold of it,
Pull your emotions into themselves, starve
the sickness they carry before it feeds
on me, your body.

You know better than to free your rage,
Worry, not even compassion,
Hope, or lust, the cost
is too high—Your
health, your
life, your

How many years have you resisted life
for me, curled up so timidly?
What’s a few more years? What do you
say? Reliving

I have been here before—
To this unwelcome place,
Past the horrific threshold,
Towards the unseen shadow, he knows

To this unwelcome place
I am drawn in again,
Towards the unseen shadow, he knows
what I am capable of.

I am drawn in again,
Exploring the depths of my soul,
What am I capable of,
What have I done?

Exploring the depths of my soul,
Past this horrific threshold,
What have I done?
I have been here before. Essence and Tea Transcendence and Nature Demons and Disease I welcome the pain, the disease
that eats away at
you, my body

Even as you grow weaker, I laugh
louder, more madly,
Because the closer this disease pushes
us to death,
The more faces I see,
And remember, the more springs
I experience,
and enjoy, the more I realize
that everybody’s body
fades, and all that matters
to me, the mind,
the spirit, is—
I will live.

Laughing like a maniac Contents

Featured Poems:
Lost in the Tri-Cities
Fishing for Poetry
I am Dog

Essence and Tea:
The Perfect Cup of Tea
Swirling in a cup

Demons and Disease:
Crohn's Disease
Laughing Like a Maniac

Transcendence and Nature:
Guide to the Pleasures
Fly Fishing About the author: Eric Francavilla is a freshman pursuing a journalism degree at Washington State University. Eric Francavilla
Washington State University
Creative Writing, Poetry
Dr. Orr
May 4, 2010
Full transcript