Thursday, October 18, 2012

Roll On Columbia

or Sometimes I get pissed there aren't giant trees and salmon everywhere, and I blame old people

You could walk across the river on their backs;
it took teams of horses to haul them out of Lake Washington;
used to be you could hold out a net and Chinook salmon
the size of a junior high boy would jump in.

But then dams and logging and legions of nets and canneries
and lawn fertilizers and meth-heads and warmer temperatures
and erosion and population explosions and mining.

Diners in small towns on state highways still hang pictures,
black and white artifacts: five or six men posed
at the base of a sky-scraper fir, wedge cut out
two men laying down inside, five or six men holding
strings of dozens of kings, looking serious
in their civil-war moustaches and suspenders

The old-timers tell their fish stories:
“used to be you’d catch two steelhead a day
now you’re lucky to get two in a season,”
a not-so-subtle hint of generation blame in their nostalgia—
as if the facebook, cell-phones and MTV were responsible.

Listening to Woody Guthrie on my Ipod
sing songs about dams on the Columbia:
leaping salmon playing in the locks,
I get the urge to trample
some local geriatrics azaleas.

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