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The Prophet's Monofilament

Bozeman, March 1980
for Vern Troxel

Cross-legged on a plastic privy bucket
Dangling flies and fisheyes on light tackle
The prophet’s monofilament

Jigging the steely ice-hole below my buttocks
Fisheyes in a brown vial with feather shards,
Tied horsehairs, and sterile maggots
Tapeworms in a galvanized bucket
Marked BAIT

Perch will strike on fisheyes
Their eyes have tails of white membrane
Silence squirts from my thumb-strike
Above the blood-orange slush

I toss them back blind and burning
Quivering in swim-bladder suspension
Only to catch them again and find the
Clef of my thumbnail above the gill covers

Cross-legged on a plastic privy bucket
Dangling flies and fisheyes on light tackle
The prophet’s monofilament
Thirty eye sockets fixed in the freeze-over
Each thorny dorsal extended