Tackle

By John Bargowski

Featured art by Teerasak Anantanon

Weeks after the cops cut Bill down
and the squad sheeted his body,

bore it out to the street, his mother
leaned over her sill and called us

upstairs to share the flies he’d wrapped
and knotted, labeled

with names we could never
have dreamed up, and arranged

in small wooden boxes next to coils
of tapered leader and packs

of hooks barbed along their shanks,
the button-down shirts

and bank teller suits in his closet
screeched and swayed

on their hangers when she elbowed
her way in for the split bamboo pole

he’d hand-rubbed to a gloss
and mounted with a reel cranked

full of line, nothing we could ever use
when we biked down

to the Hudson piers and bait-fished
for river eels and tommycod,

but we took it all, every piece
of tackle we could carry down

to the stoop to divvy up among us—
his canvas vest, his shoulder bag,

spools of waxed line, the bamboo poles,
his hip waders and creel,

and those boxes of flies—
the Zebra Midge and Gray Ghost,

his Black Woolly Bugger,
Pale Morning Dun.


John Bargowski is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and New Jersey Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review,Prairie SchoonerAlaska Quarterly ReviewNew LettersPoetry, and Ploughshares, among other publications. His book Driving West on the Pulaski Skyway was selected by Paul Mariani for the Bordighera Prize and published in 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s