Winners of the 1999 FF@ Fiction contest



First Place Prose

Definite Possibilities by Brenda Sharpe Copyright (c) Brenda Sharpe 1999 All rights reserved

It was, most would have agreed, a strange first date. Irene was standing thigh-deep in cool, flowing water. She watched as Max moved slowly upstream, casting gracefully, a cloud of cigar smoke wafting around his wide-brimmed felt hat. He moved away, around the bend in the river, cheerfully seeking his prey -- and forgetting all about her, it seemed. When you make a date for the first day of bass season, she thought, it's too much to expect flowers and candlelight. Besides, it was perfect, a warm evening with clear skies and barely any wind. Plenty of crayfish scuttled along in the water. She had noticed the strangely bright flashes of orange as she waded out from shore. This spot felt almost secret despite being in full view of a public park, barely a five minute drive from Parliament Hill. She felt the warm, early evening sun on her arms as she stripped a few yards of line from her reel, searching the river for a spot that might be "bassy." On the bank, joggers and cyclists were passing by on the trail along the river. Some stopped to watch Max as he sent a perfect cast to his chosen target. They may never have seen anyone fly fishing before, she thought, except perhaps in the movie of "A River Runs Through It." Max looked as though he could have been a character in the Redford film, with his well broken-in hat studded with flies, and his slim, tanned arm bending up to cast long, slow loops over the water. She had never fished the Rideau before. She was new to Ottawa, her skills rusty from too many years spent in Toronto's office towers and subways. She had almost forgotten how she had loved to fish with her dad on the Miramichi and the Nashwaak when she was a teenager. She had not fished often, because her father worked long hours, and she had the usual distractions of friends and school and parties. It had never occurred to her to go fishing on her own. Fishing was something done together, a shared treat, a reward for working hard. When she moved to Toronto after graduating university she had not even brought her fly rod with her. She'd need it, she thought, when she returned to New Brunswick for summer visits. But the visits became fewer and farther apart as work kept her away and, when she did visit, there were always other things to do. Last summer her father told her he felt too old to fish anymore. His hair was white, and a recent illness had sapped his energy. When did he get so old?, she thought. And when did I start getting gray myself? When she found a new job and moved to Ottawa she hadn't really thought of taking up the sport again, not until some months later when her supervisor, Barry, mentioned a meeting of the local fly fishing club. It was June and she had been working for months on a demanding project. She was longing to get out of town for a breath of fresh air. Taking up fishing again might be just the thing to counter the schedules and deadlines and meetings. She tagged along with Barry to the meeting, and it was there she met Max. That was just last week. Over drinks after the meeting Max had invited her to fish with him the next weekend, the opening of bass season. He figured an easy spot on the Rideau River would ease her back into the sport, and give her a chance to catch her first smallmouth on a fly. "They're not 'hawgs' around there," he said, "but they really like to put up a fight, and there's lots of them." -- So here they were, after meeting in a nearby parking lot and rigging up, a bit awkwardly, on the bank. It wasn't really a date, she knew, but then again it was not just two old buddies going fishing either. She had known that while talking to him in the bar after the meeting. There were, as her old roommate would have said, "definite possibilities." He was attractive in a healthy, rugged way, well-spoken and easy-going. He was pleasant to everyone and appeared to be well-liked. But when she saw his eyes -- those green, green eyes -- she thought she might not mind looking into them again sometime. With any luck, sometime soon. As if reading her mind, he'd made the invitation to go fishing. He did not seem to be hinting of anything special -- really just helping out a person who wanted to get back into the sport -- but it was a good opportunity to get to know him better. He had supplied her with some flies to use after examining her depleted stock of tattered salmon flies which she kept in one of her Dad's old, dented Wheatley boxes. He gave her some orange crayfish, the obligatory olive woolly worms, a few poppers and some light-coloured dries. They were not flashy but well-tied, and obviously tied by him. He hadn't conspicuously watched as she rigged up the five-weight she had borrowed from Barry, and he did not offer to help her down the steep bank -- that was good, she thought he wasn't patronizing her. After chatting pleasantly for a few moments at the river's edge, reminding her to keep an eye out for the heron, the kingfishers and the swans, Max moved off to give her space -- and then he just kept on going. Never mind, she told herself. There are fish in here, and they're probably hungry. Let's see what you can do after all this time. She raised her rod hand to make a first tentative cast and made a real mess of it. Maybe it's NOT like riding a bicycle, she thought, as she gathered up the tangled mass of line and straightened it out again. Then she felt the rhythm return, heard the internal metronome of her father's voice counting out her casts. She closed her eyes for a moment and remembered the smell of her dad's pipe tobacco, the rush of the river, and her favourite memory -- the pull of the largest salmon she had ever hooked, as it took a run that knocked her off balance. She fell, sputtering, into the river but kept hold of the rod -- and eventually, triumphantly, landed the fish. It would have been hard to say who was more proud, father or daughter. She looked around, drinking in the scene. Despite being so close to the downtown core, the wide stretch of river facing upstream could have been anywhere -- it looked more like Montana than Ottawa. Only the occasional bark of a dog, a faint noise of traffic and the squeals of children playing in the more shallow water far downstream made her recall she was still in the city. She did not see the kingfishers, but she spotted the tall, elegant blue heron standing motionless in the tall rushes on the far bank. Suddenly a tug, a promise -- then nothing. There's a fish, she thought. Instinct took over. She cast again, more delicately than she had thought herself capable. The line twitched almost imperceptibly and she struck sharply. Suddenly, for the first time in a decade, there was a fish on one end of a line and she on the other. She felt amazed and expectant as she fought it. She didn't have to worry about this one knocking her down though -- it was a smallmouth, no trophy, but plump and healthy-looking. She thought of her father, and smiled. He'd enjoy hearing about this when they spoke on the phone this weekend. "Where's your Dad?" she asked the bass as she released it carefully. "And where's your Mom? Tell them I'm looking for them"! As she rinsed her hands in the cool water, she looked up to see two beautiful white swans glide into view from around the same bend where Max had disappeared. She had never thought she would be fishing with royal swans! She lost all sense of time, happily casting, retrieving, setting the hook and catching bass after bass, and even one confused walleye. She felt miles and years away from the office, from the demands of clients, from the rush of deadlines and desktops. She felt her muscles un-knot, her worry-lines melt away. The tiny ache of loneliness she had carried around since leaving New Brunswick was finally gone. Finally she realized that she couldn't see to change her fly. It was dark, the evening sky a purple whisper. "Irene," said a voice quite close. "Feel like a beer?" She had completely forgotten Max, who suddenly was standing beside her. She could see he was grinning at her. She smiled back. They spent an hour in the Manx Pub, nursing cold sleeves of Dragon's Breath ale and regaling each other with fish stories. She enjoyed his company, and his green eyes seemed to glow while he listened to her. They made plans to meet next weekend at the same spot on the Rideau. I don't know what will happen with Max, Irene thought when she got home. He's great, and I love those green eyes. But one thing's for sure -- this fly fishing thing has definite possibilities.

Second Place Prose (tie)

Death Wets a Line By Danny C. Walls Copyright (c) Danny Walls 1999 All rights reserved
The old man lay motionless in the hospital bed; tubes running from bags of clear liquids hanging on an I.V. stand to needles stuck in his arms. His breath was shallow and slow. The blond young woman sitting by his side holding his hand was quietly crying. The door of the room opened and a man dressed in black formal wear entered and seated himself on the bed opposite the young woman. The old man looked at him and said, " Ah, you've come for me I suppose?" "Yes", said the man, "it is time". "You look very familiar, not at all what I expected", said the old man smoothing the sheets over his chest with his hands. " You look like that English movie actor, uh, the one in Star Wars, damn I can never remember his name". "Alec Guinness", the man said, "I find it is less upsetting to people, everyone likes Alec Guinness". The old man looked at him again, " I rather expected the tall hooded figure with the scythe, the one you see in books." " Actually, I gave that up quite some time ago, much too dreadful, people were is such a state it was impossible to talk to them, so I decided to appear as someone people liked. This year it is Alec Guinness " "Talk to them?" the old man said. " You talk to everyone before before you, uh, take them to, uh, well, wherever it is you take them?" "Yes, I always enjoy talking to my clients, everyone is different and unique. I enjoy my job." "Clients", echoed the old man, " we're you clients? I never thought of it that way. But how do you do it, talking to everyone I mean, how do you have the time, I would think that you would be very busy, what with wars here and there, disease, accidents and whatnot? How do you do it?" " I cheat ", he said. " I can control time for, well, a time I guess you could say, " he smiled. "I can't stop it, nothing can stop time, but I can slow it down. Not to mention that I can be in many places at the same time, it is the only way of course, the universe is a large place". "The universe", said the old man. " You have the whole universe to take care of? ", said the old man doubtfully. " Of course, " he said, " you didn't really think that the earth is the only place in the universe that harbors life did you? " "No, I always thought there must be life somewhere out there, but I didn't know for sure. I am glad of it, it feels right. Where will I be going now, uh, heaven ", he said looking upward, "or ", he trailed off looking downward. Alec Guinness smiled and said, " Let's just say you will like it, but we have a bit of time to spare. Where would you like to go, what would like to do? " The old man looked surprised, "You mean I can do something else before, I go to, well, wherever? Sort of like a last wish? " " You could call it that I guess, " he said as he scratched under his cummerbund, " tell me what is your favorite pastime". "Fishing, actually flyfishing," said the old man unhesitatingly, "Oh how I would love to fish the Madison River one more time during the salmon fly hatch," his eyes were on the wall of the room, but were really focused inward remembering. Returning from the past he said, " I actually only hit the salmon fly hatch twice in my life, though I fished the Madison many times. It was unbelievable, the fish would chase those giant flys ferociously, leaping completely out of the water to smash them, and the fishing, oh, the fishing was indescribable. Yes, yes ", he said excitedly, " that is what I would like to do". "Ok, it is time to go, " said Alec Guinness, "we have to be somewhere in a little while". The old man climbed out of the bed and walked to the crying young woman who was holding his hand, he was somewhat disoriented looking down at himself in the bed, but he leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek and said, "Goodbye my dear, I love you very much. Get on with your life soon, perhaps, " he said glancing at Alec Guinness, " we will see each other again". She continued to clutch her father's hand and look lovingly down at him in the bed. Alec Guinness and the old man walked to the hospital room door and stepped through it, and on to the cobble-strewn bank of a beautiful river. The old man stopped short and looked around in amazement, he inhaled sharply and began to shake slightly. "Are we where I think I am? The river, the mountains, it looks just like the bend down stream of Slide Inn. Is that were we are?" "Yes," said Alec Guinness, who was now dressed in stylish tan pants, tan safari jacket and had a rakishly slanted olive fedora, with a red feather in the band, on his head. He was seated on a large boulder at the water's edge, watching a large Osprey hovering over the water. The old man slowly became aware that he no longer was dressed in that loathsome hospital gown, but instead in his own old patched neoprene waders, his own favorite fishing shirt that his long dead wife tried, unsuccessfully many times, to throw away, his stuffed-to-the- gills fishing vest, and his beloved old slouch hat. At his feet was a rod tube, one that he recognized as containing his pride and joy, his most prized possession, a custom built split bamboo flyrod that his wife had bought for him 25 years before, an 8 foot 3 inch for 5 weight that he fished almost exclusively. His hands shook as he bent down and picked up the rod tube and lovingly removed the rod. He reached into the back pocket of his vest and removed the small Hardy reel that he always used on that rod, attached it and strung the line through the guides, his hands sliding knowingly along the rod sections. When he had the line ready, he looked out over the river looking for rising fish. He was not disappointed, wherever he looked there were slashing, jumping attacking fish, the reason being that there were salmon fly everywhere, on the water and in the air, thousands and thousands of them. He removed a leader wallet from another of the vests' seemingly endless supply of pockets and selected a 7 and 1/2 foot leader and added a short section of 5x tippet, delicacy was not necessary when the fish were on the salmon fly, and though his hands trembled, he managed to tie on a size 6 salmon dry fly. He turned to Alec Guinness as he waked toward the water and asked, "How much time do I have. Alec Guinness shrugged and answered, "Don't worry about it, I'll let you know". The old man walked to the water's edge and hesitated before stepping in, remembering the advice he had been given by his father so many years ago, "Son, " his dad had said, "most people just march up to a stream and blunder in, not really paying attention to what they are doing, so they often end up wading where they should be fishing and fishing where they should be wading." He had never forgotten that and always stopped to look over any stretch of water to see where the lies were and where he expected to find fish, only then would he enter the water. Today, that was largely unnecessary because there were fish everywhere, the salmon fly was too good a meal to miss, so the fish were less cautious than normal. He stepped gently into the water and waded out a couple of yards from the shore into knee deep water. He looked around him and chose a fish that was rising regularly about 20 ft in front of him, he stripped some line off the reel into the water and began to false cast off to the side of his selected target so as not to line him and put him down. Though he had been ill a long time and hadn't fished in several years, the casting stroke came back to him quickly, many years spent on the water with that rod had built muscle memory that even sickness couldn't diminish. He false cast once, twice and the third time he shifted his aim to about five feet up stream of were his fish was rising. The fly landed very softly for such a large fly and began to drift toward the hungry fish, when it had moved about three feet, there was a viscous slashing strike at the fly, the old man, perhaps overanxious or just out of practice, struck too hard and jerked the fly away from the fish. He calmed himself and began his false casting to the side again, again he put the fly upstream where he wanted, again the fly drifted toward the fish, and again the fish struck violently, this time the old man managed to set the hook properly and the battle was on. "Fish on, fish on!" he yelled at Alec Guinness who had walked to the water's edge to watch. The fish went tearing up stream causing the reel to scream as it lost line. After a while the fish slowed and the old man began to recover some of the line, but only for a short time, then the fish turned its head and took off again. This pattern was repeated twice more, the fish jumping clear of the water five (he had counted carefully) times, but began to tire and the old man slowly brought it in, when the fish was but 10 feet or so from him, he could see that it was perhaps the largest rainbow he had ever caught. Alec Guinness, now sporting hip boots and carrying a landing net, waded out a few feet and netted the fish. He carried it to the old man, who took the fish tenderly from the net and removed the hook from the corner of its mouth, he looked at Alec Guinness, "Isn't this one of the most beautiful creatures you have ever seen? It has to be 25 inches long, a brute, a beautiful brute. Lord, how I love this, I am going to miss it terribly." He held the fish in the water facing up stream so fresh water could pass over its gills and revive it, after only a minute or so it shook its head from side to side then snapped its tail and was gone. The old man straightened up and said, "How about you, do you like to fish?" "Me?" said Alec Guinness, "Fish? Well, actually I never have, pretty darned busy as you already pointed out. Though it does look like fun." "Would you like to try it ", said the old man, as he held out his rod, " here, take this and catch a big one, there is nothing to it." He hesitated momentarily then accepted the rod, "I don't really know how to use this thing. What should I do?" " I don't really think it matters today," said the old man smiling, "just fling it out there towards a fish that is rising to those giant orange flys and see what happens, " said the old man. He was a fast learner and tried to imitate what he had seen the old man do and in short order he had a cast out and the fly on the water. The fly drifted only a little distance when it was blasted by a hungry rainbow, "I got one, I got one, " yelled Alec Guinness, " now what do I do?" "Hang on! " said the old man laughing. After an inexpert but successful fight the fish was brought to net and the old man removed it, and held it out, "do you take fish and other animals too?" he asked. Alec Guinness took the proffered fish in his hands and removed the hook, he looked at he fish from several angles and said, "No, only sentient beings, animals are handled by, " he seemed to be searching for words, " uh, a different department." He held the fish underwater for a moment, then it swam away. Alec Guinness looked at the old man and said, "Thank you for sharing that with me. It is not often I have the pleasure of pleasure. However it is time we go now, I told you we have some place to be." The old man said, "Thank you for allowing me to do this one last time, I had no idea that this was part of the, um, service. Won't you tell me where I have to go now, perhaps I should be preparing myself in someway." "Trust me, " said Alec Guinness, "you need no preparation, and you need not be afraid, you will like it I assure you. Let's walk this way." They took several steps toward the bank, then the old man noticed that the river was gone and he was walking down a familiar corridor, he glanced around and there was Alec Guinness, back in formal attire, he saw with disgust, that he was again in the hated hospital gown. "Hey, " he said, "we're back in the hospital, were are we going?" Ignoring the question Alec Guinness said, "Follow me, we are right on schedule." They came to a connecting hallway, and turned down the left wing, after what seemed a very long walk to the old man, they came to a set of double doors that said `NO ADMITANCE', they walked through them anyway. The old man found himself in the room with four people, there was a woman lying on her back, her distended abdomen covered with a green drape and her feet were up in stirrups. A young man sat near her and held her hand, he was saying, `breathe, breathe', a tall man and a woman dressed in green scrubs were standing near the woman's feet. The old man turned sharply to Alec Guinness and said, "This is a delivery room, what are we doing here? I don't understand." "Yes you do," he said and smiled, "it is sort of like recycling, go on. " There was a flurry of activity around the woman, the man was standing at the end of the table near her feet, and was urging, "Push, push, here we go, here we go." After a few minutes he held up a purplish, squirming, screaming baby. He looked at the young couple and said, "Congratulations, it's a boy!"

Second Place Prose (tie)

Malted Milk by Richard Frank Copyright (c) Richard Frank 1999 All rights reserved

I wrote, ďListening to Robert Johnson thinking of you.Ē Thatís how it began. It wasnít a lie, and it sounded good. Baby, fix me one more drink and hug your daddy one more time Baby, fix me one more drink and hug your daddy one more time Keep on stirriní in my malted milk, mama until I change my mind I went on. Your letter said it all, but I couldnít let it go. The memory of the Jesup Cabin keeps coming back to me. It always does when we end up here. And, we keep ending up here, don't we? Remember when the power failed at the Jesup cabin, and we lit all those candles and sat on the porch listening to the river? We didnít talk then. The river talked. And you found the Robert Johnson 78s in the cabinet under the Victrola. We cranked it up... I got a kindhearted woman do anything in the world for me I got a kindhearted woman do anything in the world for me It was better than the Caruso or the Nelson Eddy, even better than the Bessie Smith. You said he sang like the river. We pulled the mattress off the bed and carried it up the ladder to the loft by the low window, so we could wake up in the morning and see the fish rising. The red squirrels played on the porch roof ouside the window and woke us. I remember the air stuck to our skin when we made love and we watched the fish from up there before breakfast Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm You better come on in my kitchen babe itís goiní to be raininí outdoors Your letter says it all. Thereís no need for this. No point. Well, maybe there is a point. I don't know. Yes I'm having a little bourbon. Iím thinking about when Kate was born. We took her up to Black Creek and put the porta-crib by the laurel while we fished. Remember there was that amazing swirl of spinners and the caddis dancing over the water. She was giggling and I still think it was because she was looking up at all those bugs. God, how great that was! When you got a good friend that will stay right by your side When you got a good friend that will stay right by your side Give her all your spare time try to love and treat her right I always thought that we were bound together by those moments, by friendly rivers, by laurel, and by fish.. And the silence was a part of it. You know what I mean. When did it stop being a part of it, Jen? When did the silence leave the river? When did it change? And I followed her to the station with a suitcase in my hand And I followed her to the station with a suitcase in my hand Well, itís hard to tell, itís hard to tell when all your loveís in vain Iím going down to Vicksburg next week. Iíll stop in to see Kent and have him start on the papers. He said you can call him. I hear the Rapidan is fishing well, so I may swing by there on my way back up. Tom and Ellie invited me to stay over for a few days. I guess they are pretty upset about this. I know the fishing is just an excuse to get me there. I donít know what to say to them exactly. Iíll probably just say what you said about how people sometimes just lose their way and they canít really point to some moment or even to some period in their lives when it happened. Whatever ďitĒ is. You really did sum it up, but I still canít figure out how the silence changes from pool to rapids and sweeps everything away. I think I need to know that if I can. Beatrice, she got a phonograph and it wonít say a lonesome word Beatrice, she got a phonograph and it wonít say a lonesome word What evil have I done what evil has the poor girl heard Tell Katie Iíll call her when I get back. Iíll pick her up on Monday as we planned. Take care of yourself, Eric Damn, I donít even know how to close a letter and not feel stupid.

First Place Poetry

Fly Fishing with Omar Khayyam by George Bruzenak Copyright (c) George Bruzenak 1999 All rights reserved
Wake! For the Sun, who scattered into flight, Trout, driven deeper by the rising bright, Drives them before Him to covering shade, And strikes the mountains with a shaft of light. Come fill your cup, wake to the coffee smell, Your evening's drowsiness now to quell. The river runs, and has but little way To move, and the trout for you to compel. A box of flies well-crafted at the vise, A flexing rod, a hanging net - allies Taken with you to the deep river's edge, A quarry to catch, and immortalize. Finned desire of your heart's expectation, None netted - or uncounted fishes won, Soon forgotten in your dimming sight, Further fading into oblivion. With worm and bobber you first aspired, Until hooks and feathers did conspire, When teachers and sellers helped you along, You then became a fine-fingered tier. With feather and thread did this tier tie, The offering he thought would falsify, And on this morning tied upon the line The fraud, for the trout to disqualify. * * * Expectantly along the riverside, The angler searched that silvr'y stream, and spied The trout, deep within the swirling waters, Cast forth that looping line - He did misguide! Cast his chosen fly with bad reckoning, On the water, willy-nilly flowing, And out of it, beyond the chosen lie, Way off target, willy-nilly blowing. The wayward fly drift'd on, and having shift'd, Moved on; neither his skill nor line's quick lift Could pull it back to cancel that bad cast, Nor all his memories of that bad drift. That silvered surface, the film, we call it, Under moving sheen, trout live and outwit, Lift not your rod to them for help - for they Move off to another place, and outsit. * * * Yesterday - this day's bad cast did prepare Tomorrow's silence, for today you swear, Cast on! You know not where the quarry's gone, Leaving you on the stream, a solitaire. Now there is no way one could ever match, All those flaming words you did soon attach To that bad throw upon the silv'ry sheen, Your fly? The tree behind did fast detach. When the fly in flight had struck that fiber, Cleft from your line, that feath'ry posturer, Lost forever in a woody embrace, Leaving you, disgruntled artificer. I do know that once upon the water, Brought to sight, our feathery wanderer, One flash, even in such a wayward drift, Better than in that fibrous plunderer. What! Impute a soul to spreading branches? Unlikely heart it can never possess? Recall as everlasting penalty The fly that you can no longer access. What! From that soulless branch is not retrieved The offering you tied and now must leave? Search for another Leave that one for good, To the God of Woodlands that fly bequeath. * * * Now under cover of the spreading boughs, Slunk chastened angler to select somehow Another fly from his many boxes, He searched for the best his line to endow. Flies of all sorts and sizes, bright and dim, Filled all his wooden boxes to the brim, There were some frequently fished ones, and some Ne'er used at all, tied only on a whim. Whether by magic or by some design, Or swooning - from those long tendrils of wine Our angler had drunk the night before, Voices were heard from the flies there confined. With voices plain they spoke to the angler, "You've tied us all, and kept us prisoner, In these boxes are all the flies you've tied, Rescue one of us from this sepulchre." Said one amongst them, a voice much clearer, "You might take one - the sort much commoner Than the one you tried, and lost in that tree, Pick one --- let it become the sorcerer." So while the flies, one by one were speaking To the angler - desperately seeking The flawless feath'ry for the waiting trout, One said, "Hurry, Brother! ---Day's receding!" * * * A moment's halt - a momentary look, At the silvery surface of that brook, He picked the fly that best deserved to catch The trout, to deceive with that festooned hook. Perplext'd no more with selections' sorrow, Moved to the river brink and there to throw That feath'ry serpent to the trout below, Deceived not by currents - a perfect flow. The trout of all Anglers' desire caught, On that sharpened hook was the fish he sought, Firmly attached to that colorful fraud, Into the waiting net the trout was brought. * * * Some amongst us would keep the captured fish, Then all our jeweled trout will have vanished, No fish to play or swim 'round mossy rocks, Lonesome stream, empty and impoverished. Others would perceive Creation's Presence, That sparkling trout in all its opulence, Which, for this Pastime of Eternity Belongs to all, our angling audience. Upon that yet unfolded Roll of Fate, Are written Words that we in Life dictate, With actions - good or bad --- we're not the Judge, Enregister? - Or keep you from that Gate. How oft' hereafter would the Shining Sun, Our Star, in silent benediction, Look down upon this deserted river, Rise o'er these shores, and not find anyone? Soon, with other anglers, you too shall pass, O'er all the other footsteps on the grass, And, in that travel reach the spot where he Released the fish - Raise high an honored glass!

Now, old men tie their coachman on by richard frank Copyright (c) Richard Frank 1999 All rights reserved

Now, old men tie their coachman on, Their trembling hands pull leaders fast, In dreams of fishes sleek and long. In youth their woolen pants theyíd don To stand midstream in currentís blast; Now, old men tie their coachman on. They fished the brooks while moonlight shone, They fished the rivers wide and vast, In dreams of fishes sleek and long. They smoked and sipped a liquor strong, Youth knowing well it would not last. Now, old men tie their coachman on, But ancient days and nights live on - The living rivers are their past - In dreams of fishes sleek and long Their vision like the lightís near gone They lift their rods, prepare to cast Now, old men tie their coachman on In dreams of fishes sleek and long

I Walk Along The Little Stream... by Claude Freaner Copyright (c)Claude Freaner 1999 All rights reserved
I walk along the little stream, Thoughts unfocused, as in a dream; Wavelets reflecting the sunlight Dancing, sparkling, to my delight. A small ring appears, on this rill; I pause, and wait a bit until Another forms in the same place, Causing my heavy heart to race. I gently cast the tiny dry Just upstream, and hold my breath; It disappears, the fight started... The brilliant colors flash; I sigh. The fish released, no need for death; My mind eased - peaceful, light-hearted.