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Hemingway, You Old Bear
[Seney, MI. September 13, 1994]

Stubborn blueberries cling wild, low-blue in bushy clumps
Clutching for purchase on hardtack sand along the Fox, which Ernest-
Black-Hearted Hemingway called the Big Two-Hearted
An act of disinformation,
Misdirection under the rubric of art,
So-called poetic license,
I say bull,
His only thought: Himself.
I hear the great ghost grunting in the horsetail ferns
Above the ancient log slide choked with weeds,
Annoyed to find me
Casting in the oxbow of his dearest hoax
Flicking an elk hair caddis
At the same pool Nick Adams
Worked so artificially.
Two hours, thirteen fat fish,
I climbed the bank to find
a huge bear, teddy-sitting
splay-legged in the berries,
his graying snout contorted,
clawing clumps of blue,
a hunched-over curmudgeon
clack-smacking his yellow teeth in warning,
raised a paw,
a salute I recognize.
In Havana long ago,
One of Mary's canasta cronies
Sandal-footed into the black-marble foyer.
Taking her leave slowly,
spied a white-bearded thing in ratty flannel robe, padding
barefoot from a stucco room,
stop, stare, blink, breathe.
"My friend Julia, said Mary, "on her way out."
It grunts, raises a huge paw
Waddles on, agonizing over
Brook trout far north,
Left unprotected,
Covered only by legend,
And a flimsy one at that.

You can't fool me, Hem,
Reincarnating your selfish self
In that shaggy black hide, filling
Your selfish mush with huckleberries,
A nasty excuse to guard your secret.
I'm here, you old bastard,
Taking your fish.
Where's your bravado now?

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