August 2008

Paul Nelson


Paul Nelson has published five books, among them Days Off (University Press of Virginia, 1982 AWP Winner), and The Hard Shapes of Paradise (University of Alabama Press Series selection, 1988). For many years Director of the Creative Writing program for Ohio University, he now writes from the north shore of O'ahu and trolls offshore, looking back at what must be an uninhabited island. A new book, Sea Level, (Main Street Rag Press) will be out soon.

Tackle Box    

Time to time, from time,
I open the box
to look at my collectibles,
a bug-eyed, black Crazy Crawler
that might spastically swim the lily pads
on aluminum "wings," a Jitterburg
in the cartoon, chugging frog pattern, both
by Fred Arbogast, a nervous man
I'd guess, during WWII. Most valuable,
a balsa shad, hand-made by someone,
painted like a Miro, nothing in nature.
What I like about the past.
All the treble hooks.

There in trays the silver blades,
spinners stamped and plated in Akron,
in Sheboygen, when we made things.
And hand-tied salmon flies from Scotland:  
a Jock Scott and a Silver Doctor,
each in its crisp, cellophane envelope,
feathers bright and gay as Eden.
So fine when hooked in a green felt hat.

How could a fisherman use or lose
such gorgeous baubles?
They lie side by side, an array,
talismans in original condition,
though it troubles me
when charm needs be "mint."

I love the Heddon's jointed minnow,
a chartreuse dace with measles,
its paint gashed by at least one
ministerial pickerel.



Paul Nelson: Poetry
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