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Deschutes River Reverie

The river, swift and shallow, roils its way
Beneath the outstretched arms of old-growth pines,
Past bank-side willows diamond-dewed with spray,
And hillside ferns and thimbleberry vines.

A fallen cedar, once a forest lord,
Contributes to the nascent euphony
As broken branches add a vocal chord
To water-music’s choral symphony.

Behind the cedar lies a quiet spot
Where wrist-flicked Pregnant Adams gently lands.
With flash and tug, a German Brown is caught
And gently held in two well-moistened hands.

The barbless hook removed, the trout set free,
An Upper Deschutes River reverie.

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Note: A “Pregnant Adams” is an artificial dry fly used in fly fishing.

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Golden Rainbow

Silver shimmers swirl and eddy,
Gurgle, splash, slip-slide away.
Rounded river rocks unsteady
Underneath my feet today.

Hiding in the water’s shadows
Hungry trout are standing by
Hoping that the nearby meadows
Feed them with a juicy fly.

Carefully I creep and tarry
With my fishing pole held tight.
Hoping the dry-flies I carry
Trick the trout to take a bite.

With a practiced flick of wrist
I cast my line and float my fly.
Rising trout has hit—but missed!
I’m ready for a second try.

With my fly adrift I’m jerking
It to make it look alive.
Splash from where the trout is lurking—
Barbless hook—it takes a dive.

Carefully the fish is landed,
Lifted to the light of day.
As the fish is held wet-handed—
Golden rainbows on display.

Quickly now, the fish will be
Released into the rushing stream.
Then, when it has been set free,
I’ll ever hold it as a dream.

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With Diced Potatoes on the Side

When cleaning fresh-caught Brook or Rainbow trout
One can remove or opt to keep the head.
The fish’s viscera are gutted out
And then the spinal vein is split and bled.

A mess of smaller fish can then be fried
In salt and butter in a cast-iron pan
With diced potatoes sautéed on the side—
A gourmet feast for any fisherman.

With Steelhead, Salmon, Mackinaw, and Brown
One can fillet and then sauté or bake
A dinner entrée worthy of renown,
Surpassing lobster, caviar, and steak.

That said, for forty years I’ve been at peace
To fish with barbless flies—catch and release.

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James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse.


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20 Responses

  1. Michael Pietrack

    I found these RobertFrostesque, alive with imagery and engaging the senses.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Thanks, Michael. Often, when fishing, I stop to feel the soundless hum of vast high-mountain space and the bite of the chill, crisp stir of early morning air, to taste the smell of wild onion, manzanita and sagebrush, to embrace the color of aspen in the fall and lupin, paintbrush and heather in the spring, and to dance with the the melodious gurgle splash of a snow-fed stream. Nature provides its own music, art, and poetry. My fly pole is just a magic wand that opens doors to experience wonders far greater than the mere catching of a fish. I have tried to capture a taste of that larger context in the first two poems.

      Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Yes, this was my thought as well… I love Robert Frost. These are great poems, all three of them. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  2. Brian Yapko

    James, these are a delightful read! The joy you so artfully describe is palpable — especially in your Deschutes River reverie. I like your sly reference to the classical piece Water Music as well as your description of the fallen cedar as “once the forest lord.” Never heard of thimbleberries but what a great name! You make me miss the Pacific Northwest.

    Reply
  3. Roy E. Peterson

    James, I am certainly glad you explained the “Pregnant Adams!” All three are wonderful poems about the joys and enchantment of fishing. You took me back many years to my younger days. Like Brian, I really savored the fallen cedar reference as “once the forest lord.” I once lived in the Seattle area. I miss the fish and the fishing!

    Reply
  4. Russel Winick

    James – each of these delightful poems made me feel like I was there, even though I’m more of a bass guy. Practiced flick of wrist indeed. Wonderful work!

    Reply
  5. jd

    Not a fishing fan but our two sons love it and
    one of them, at least, makes a great effort to
    release them as painlessly as possible. Still, I
    enjoyed all three poems very much for their
    music and visuals and even some imagined
    aroma in the last.

    Reply
  6. James A. Tweedie

    Although the picture on the right shows a small but prized native Redband rainbow trout taken in Oregon’s Metolius River, my “home” for hiking and fishing is the High Sierra in California, usually between 7,000-11,000 feet. The picture of me on the left was taken by my brother on the Little Carson River just south of Lake Tahoe.

    Reply
  7. Cheryl Corey

    All three are a fine tribute to the art of fishing; and “With Diced Potatoes…” is enough to make you salivate. Anyone who hasn’t seen it and loves fishing should watch the movie “A River Runs Through It”. P.S. Be careful on those rocks!

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Cheryl, a beautiful and well-paced (slow) movie that carefully follows the short novel it is based on and avoids all thought of “making a statement” beyond telling a story. The photography and fishing scenes are authentic. Highly recommended for those who are otherwise stressed by a stressful world. Gods call, Cheryl.

      Reply
  8. David Paul Behrens

    In reading these poems, I felt transported into the wonderful world of nature. Now, I feel like cooking some fish. Thank you for these beautifully descriptive poems!

    Reply
  9. Margaret Coats

    Are you a Handel fan? I’ve always loved the Water Music, and find your poem quite creative in making water-music choral.
    “Deschutes River Reverie” is a remarkable description of the quiet fishing spot where every fisherman wants to stay and fish for restful hours as the river roils by. With Handel on my mind, I might say it reflects an atmosphere like that in the brief aria “Ombra mai fu” from the opera Xerxes.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      It was indeed a shady spot and I can imagine that the river may well have been singing an aria commending the sweetness of the trees.

      Reply
  10. Norma Pain

    James, these three poems brought the act of fishing to life for me, even though if I had to catch my own food, I would probably starve to death. I felt as if I was right there with you, enjoying all the joys of nature. Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Paul Freeman

    I enjoyed all three – very visual. Especially enjoyed the twist in the last line of ‘With Diced Potatoes’.

    Thanks for the reads.

    Reply
  12. Paul

    I love “Deschutes River Reverie,” James. Great meter and rhythm, and a compelling story.

    Reply
  13. Shaun C. Duncan

    This is a wonderful set of poems, James. Personally I’ve always found fishing to be a frustrating exercise but “Deschutes River Reverie” does a marvellous job of sharing the sense of communion with nature that fly fishing inspires in enthusiasts.

    The shift to common metre in “Golden Rainbow” works well to snap us out of the reverie and convey a sense of the thrill of the hunt, while the earthiness of the main body of “With Diced Potatoes on the Side” bookends the opening poem nicely, before the final couplet briefly returns us to the sense of reverie, closing the set with humour and grace. Great work!

    Reply
  14. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these poems, but especially “Golden Rainbow”. The rhyme and rhythm and lush linguistics are a treat. All that onomatopoeic wonder in the first stanza had me reveling in the mellifluous flow of water music. I also like the Wordsworth daffodils feel of recalling the beauty of the golden rainbows in a dream. Great stuff!

    Reply
  15. Alena Casey

    “With Diced Potatoes On the Side” made me hungry! You have lovely imagery in your poems. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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