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Opener Eve
[April 30, 1994]

I have the best intentions
of traveling lighter than air,
have sworn to the Mermaid Queen
of the east branch of the Paw Paw
ruthlessly to cull surplus
gear, lightening my load
for slog-wallowing the icy creek
nestled in the rolling thighs
of wine country east of town,
but I am modern man,
homo technologicus,
by genes predisposed
to trust gizmos over
mere oaths to mythical spooks.
I hover hunch-backed,
presiding over inventory
with Pickwickian ardor,
pick-a-packing bare
essentials of the craft,
making piles, must-take, could-take,
leave-behind, the smallest mound.
More choices here than Hefner
in his house of wanton bimbos,
on Wacker Drive if I recall
or sure as hell ought to be.
The list lies medullan
in the base of my skull:
Foldable wading staff for water
sure to be swollen with run-off,
TP for a streamside squat,
I like my tissue dry, carry
it in a waterproof bag
from Royal Thai, the color
of the bottom of public
swimming pools. 
I think I can do without
the odd item, but the must-take
mound grows steadily larger.
Woven belt, extra croakies in
tropical fish motif,
two small knifes and honing stones,
hemostats, defogging wax for
my glasses, three new rods,
(having sat on two old ones
last year), Mepps spinners
in the Size of Zero, mostly brass,
all French with a dash of red
for blood, a sure color
for brown trout starved over
winter for crawler meat,
sink-shot, soft and hard, black,
stainless steel and brass swivels,
snelled hooks, bait-grabbers with
sharp tits and patented twist
to keep the worms in their place,
green neoprene waders,
fawn boots with padded soles,
thermies, polarized glasses,
amber and gray that fit over
prescriptions like a welder's shield,
immersible thermometer,
panic whistle, teal poncho,
rope with no clearcut purpose,
Day-Glo shoelaces to mark
the get-in, and by inference
the get-out, Canuck bush hat
that hawkers at Disneyland
said would last a lifetime,
ear warmer, packs of smokes
bought today before the
new half-buck-a-pack tax
takes effect, tonight I hear,
license and trout stamp,
credentials for fish cops
strict constructionists of law,
keepers of the scales of justice.

I stare at jars of salmon roe
held together by swatches
of nylon stockings,
and wonder what sort of legs
they decorated before Uncle Josh,
the emperor of pork frogs,
filled them with orange eggs
from the bellies a cohos.
The hardware is significant:
extra line extra limp,
four-pound-test and six, thin as hair,
diving Rapalas, fat-lipped
little divey-dogs made by Finns,
Swedish Pimples hammered flat
from sheet metal by Yoopers
in Gladstone, leaf spoons,
lighter than cigarette foil,
a new net in noir, so much
I start to wonder if there's
room for luck.
The wife wanders in round midnight,
surveys the cluttered floor,,
tells me I ought to pull
a travois with a head-tump, the way Indians
pulled their old fools across Nebraska.

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