Gary dangles a two-foot catfish– by Bruce Jacobs

Mar 5, 2024 | Bubbler

from his lawn chair in the

Lakeside photo, right hand

Hoisting the three-pounder

Like the long weight of one of

His past marriages. I think this

Because he is nearly smiling

Beneath his 12-inch beard.

Behind him, trees blur

Green cotton against brown water.

Gary is looking down at the

Dangled fish’s sledge head.

The fish is looking out at

What may or may not be death

Since the photo tells us only

Here hangs the catfish.

Here sits Gary

Sleepless with pain

Ankles bloated like goiters

Hours or years away

From never waking.

He writes poems about a

Winter sparrow he thinks may

Outlive him, and how his

Hardline sister

Laughed to him about

Her wanting to take a stick and

Poke their spear-mouthed mother

In the casket

At her funeral

To make sure she was dead.

Bruce A. Jacobs has appeared in African-American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Loch Raven Review, Seattle Review, Gargoyle, Poetry Kanto, Dickinson Review, and elsewhere. His rant Jeep Cherokee appeared in the US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’ anthology 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for the Everyday. His books include Race Manners, Race Manners for the 21st Century, Speaking Through My Skin, and Cathode Ray Blues. He has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, Pacifica, and mainstream outlets. He lives in Washington DC, where he is working on a memoir and a new collection of poems.