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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Steve Howard
Nagoya, Japan


Fly Fishing out of a Dead-End Life

This river has at least three names: the White River (the most common name), the Black River (the old name), and the Stuck River (the most appropriate name). I'm fly-fishing for steelhead, a difficult fish to catch on a fly rod. The river is running a little high and its color is off. I should be focused on the drift of my fly, but I'm distracted by the dump of a trailer park on the other side of the river. I lived there when I was a kid.

muddy currents
clouding up the lens
of concentration

I cast out into a slow back eddy in the middle of the river, hoping maybe the sluggish current will slow my fly down a little and put it in front of a fish. Sluggish memories as dark and off-color as the river drift by as well.

an argument between 15-year-old boys about a girl, a hunting knife drawn, my friend loses a lung; another friend, drunk, tries to cross the railroad tracks and is killed by a train; yet another friend, this death delayed, of a heart attack at 38 years old, mostly likely from shooting crystal meth and smoking cigarettes as a teenager

Suddenly, my fly jolts to a stop and then begins a fast run downstream. A fish! And a big one, 12 pounds at least, I judge by its size once I land it. After I revive it in the river I let it swim away back into the current and depths. Some good things come out of this ugly river and the morbid trailer park behind it. I made it out.

spawn only
if you don't become
food for bears

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