Here are three sonnets from a new book, Almost Happy, to be published by Limberlost Press. I’ll be touring with the Almost Trashy tour through Idaho and Utah during the next two weeks. With luck, we’ll have some books bound by Thursday.

Off Course

You can walk from the outskirts to the heart of my town
in minutes. Just follow the path by the stream under
two bridges, past the store and the church, then down
a hill of wildflowers. If you wander
off course, you’ll be here in the park. The tire
swing is strong enough to hold an average
adult or two children. You’ll find that the higher
someone pushes you above the hedge,
the easier it is to see the brook trout darting
from your shadow. I will be the old
man sitting in the shade, sorting
my flies on the picnic table among gold
spots of light. Please wave but don’t come near.
A living voice might make me disappear.

Almost Happy

I drove out on the ice last week, parked
into the wind and fished off the tail-gate
of my pickup. After a while I jerked
up a bunch of perch. I used their eyes for bait
and caught a walleye and six ling. The ling
looked like huge intestinal parasites.
I stabbed them in their heads, but the damned things
were still flopping when I cleaned them that night.
When I was collecting my tip-ups and getting ready
to leave, three guys came gunning up the lake
on ATVs. It was cold and pretty
windy so one guy used his dog for a windbreak.
Sitting up on the tank with its ears flapping,
the poor sonofabitch looked almost happy.

In The Who’s Who of the River

If you gather morels by a river, then
they’ll taste like that river. If you eat the morels
with trout, they won’t be redundant. But then again….
spring evenings I’ve watched the deer move themselves
along the margins of cottonwood groves. And mornings
I’ve noticed the nibbled stalks of morels. I must
have a word with these deer, perhaps of warning,
perhaps of advice. But what would it be? Trust?
Share? Shoo? In the who’s who of the river,
I’m afraid I’m rather low on the totem pole.
If you eat morels with deer, you’ll never
hear the end of it. You’ll have swallowed a whole
lexicon. You’ll be a walking refrain.
You’ll become a brain in a brain in a brain.


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