Skunked in Spokanistan

Matthew Roberts is a fine fisherman, barley pop enthusiast, and chaser of sea-run cutthroat.
As well, he recently graduated with with his MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern WA University. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Prairie Poetry.Org, Windfall, Whatcom Places II anthology, The Methow Naturalist, and Tribute to Orpheus anthology, and an interview with James Bertolino in the Cortland Review. He was a recipient of the 2006 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Award, 2006 Washington Wilderness Coalition’s “Words for Wilderness” prize, and the 2007 Jeanne Lohmann Prize for Poetry. A sometimes guide on the Methow, as well as on the Olympic Penninsula and elsewhere, Matt sent us this lyrical gem on the nuances of getting your ass kicked in Spokanistan, WA. It’s called “Skunked on the Spokane.”

Skunked on the Spokane River

On a December day when the river

wouldn’t surrender a single trout,

after tying on midges

the size of sugar ants,

(22s being my limit)

I watched the fish closely

through tannic windows



their head and tail rises,

false rises,

as my fly glided over them

appearing so out of place against the naturals

I began to question

my presentation,

tippet diameter,

visibility vs.

the trout’s intelligence:

What the hell are they sipping?

In these selective-feeding situations

the trout don’t answer.

A blankness of mind


from its sub-aquatic state

to join a pair of passing oyster catchers


upriver mist

banking the valley’s

glacial erratics.


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