Catch & Release, a poem by Vicki Hill

You chased, not really to catch me
Then began to store in your creel
Not ready to love, but be ‘in love’
Or the opposite way to feel.

As years flew away, often
Days were good, but many bad
Did I know have a clue what to do
After 35 golden years I’d had?

Apparently not: you quit speaking.
Strain? It seemed what you desired
Until a medical condition for me
Long recovery left me so tired

So much at rest I could assess–
My reality: I’d become chaser
You had already quit the game as
Caregiver/host: all else ‘eraser’

It came today in my waking dream
Clad in just a beach towel awaking
You’d reversed behavior, lifestyle
Leaving me isolated, alone, quaking

My warning indeed to cut all ties
Return surprise package delivery,
Cancel visit plans, your return here;
Step into shallows, swim again: free!

Fly Fishing With a Couple of Old Buddies

He started on the trip to the
cottage and along the rutted,
rocky road on the left and
the right he was faced with
horrific sights from his past
— one shame-filled, shivering
moment after another — the
little dog pleading, Why
were you so mean?, his
late wife holding up the list
of complaints about his
behavior, the friend holding
the note asking for a word
of support never answered.

He could go on but he
tried to look straight
ahead. Enough.

He didn’t want to go to
the cottage where Dante
and the Devil waited ready
to fly fish for trout (his
favorite pastime and they
knew it), catch and release,
of course, and then say to
him — you can check out
but you can never leave with
a nod to the Eagles, their
favorite 70’s rock group.

The candidates and speech
makers looked so good and
nice and were such good
people who loved their kids
and who were always there
when needed as attested by
their beaming spouses and

He looked across the room
and asked his wife if she
had things in her life for
which she felt ashamed.
Sure. Name one. Give me a
minute. Okay, she said after
twenty-four hours of consider-
ing. I sent a note of condolence
to a former employee when her
husband died but I should
have done more. That’s it?

Dear, do you know where
my waders are? I’m going
fishing with a couple of
old buddies.

I think you’re nostril deep
in self-pity already, dear,
she said.

The Right Word

What is just the mot juste
not just the mot but the mot juste
not just the juste but the mot juste?
Give me a minute to find just the
right mot juste, redundantly speaking,
and it may take a life time
of looking and peeking
and the poem may never see
the light of day,
so excuse me for using the
almost mot juste,
the not quite perfect mot juste,
or even the not close to being the mot juste,
for you see, while the sun shines,
I have to make hay,
I really have to say,
because the exactly right word is nay.

The Wisdom of a Dog

A man read in a novel that
a dog never, ever forgets its
abuser and that on its death
bed, the dog will growl if
the abuser comes near.
The man hadn’t heard a growl,
but remembers how the
dog bowed its head, not in
reverence but fear,
as the man drew near
to say goodbye
with a tear.
In that moment, he wondered
if he would ever be free
of the shame that he confessed
with an earnest plea
for forgiveness from the
dog and the dog’s
compassionate creator, Thee.
The man looked down at
man’s best friend beside
him, placed his hand on
the dog’s head
and the dog didn’t
bow but instead
lifted his head
and addressed the
man’s melancholic
mood, “Enough
with all the self-pity;
you have been more
than good and loving
to me
and the previous three.
The question
for you is, having been
forgiven by the dog’s
creator, Thee,
can you forgive
yourself and then have
compassion for those
who like you have fallen
far short of the glory
of the creator reflected in
the innocent dog of long ago?”
The man looked at the dog
and simply said, “I hope so.”

What it Seems

He thinks of all the places
he has been — here, there,
seemingly everywhere,
well, everywhere for him,
which for many others
who encountered him there,
translates into nowhere —
organizations, clubs, schools,
people connected to him
in various ways, unconnected
now and gone. Memories fade
and people who might have
had some significance pass
from thought and view and
he then wonders if it is
all a dream like the dream of
last evening where he
looked at the person at the
other end of the bar and
said, “I know you,” and
that person, gulped his
bourbon and slipping out
the side door, quipped
in a quivering voice,
“I have never seen you
before, and now that
I have seen you, I hope
never to see you any
more.” Then he woke
from that dream and
walked it into the light
of day while he made
coffee like he does
each and every day.
Does that mean it was
a dream within a dream
and wakefulness is just
what it seems? Just go
to a school reunion of days
which have passed away.
“Who are you?” they are
destined to say.

Animals in the Garden

She told me the deer ate the Tiger Lilies,
but we thought the lilies were quite safe
because that lily wasn’t much to their taste,
but, apparently, all those bucks and fillies

grab tigers by the tail and devour them fast
leaving the glorious garden a desolate place,
but there is a way to keep the tigers safe.
Next year, fierce dande-lions the deer won’t get past.

She Had To Be Given the Red Ribbon

For some reason or other she
felt a need to once again put
some of her work in the county
fair art show — three lovely,
statuesque sculptures. Was it
a nod to her humble beginnings
when she was thrilled to get
all those blue ribbons before
the galleries and truly

competitive shows? Who knows?

It’s what she did. The three
pieces were placed on a fold-
ing table, the kind found in
church fellowship halls, in
front of the other winners in
various categories hanging on
the walls in the building other-
wise used for storing hay. The
smell of manure permeated. Two
blue ribbons and a red. Her
first second place ever, but
it seems like it had to be.
Would it be fair in such
egalitarian surroundings to
run away with the show one
more time? County Fair fair-
ness demanded it. Deserved or

she had to be given a red ribbon.

Falling Into Love

The fifty-year-old going on
a hundred minister/social
activist wisely blurted

“I’m in free fall,” a year
after the tragic death in
a day of the life of his

beloved wife. He fell in
love with her twix twelve
and twenty and now he

admits he is falling frighten-
ingly somewhere he knows
not where. His friends say

wisely, “When you hit bottom,
we will be there to help
lift you up,” — falling as

the way to rising — falling
helplessly in love, rising
to new, unexpected life to-

gether, free-falling after
tragedy, rising with the help
of friends — Jesus falling into

the devious, devilish, death-
ly plans of the powerful,
falling from life into the

dark arms of death’s abyss
landing instead into the

arms of Eternal Love in
the midst of the black
hole of nothingness and

being lifted up to new life-
giving love and justice for all —
faith testimony’s call.

Looking for the Calculator

Looking for the calculator on his
Mac Pro, he scanned the symbols
on the bottom of the screen (He
can’t ever remember what that bar
of symbols is called.) of things to
do and places to go on the computer.

He paused over each symbol. What it
is and what it does is translated.
He came across “Face Time,” and
not knowing if it were some kind
of prophesy of what he would face
in the future and being naturally

inquisitive, he clicked it on an
and saw a hint in the present what
his future would look like. “Yikes,
he shouted in abject horror and fear,
“That’s way too up close and person-
al, way too personal.” Apparently,

it’s a way to communicate with
grandchildren. Which when he thought
about it would scare the kids half
to death. He wondered what all those
blotches were and he couldn’t see
the few hairs on top of his head

even when he bent his face down.
He exited quickly. It’s bad enough
that he has to look in the mirror
in the morning, he thought; why go
looking for trouble? Shaken to the
bone, and vowing never to inflict

such a thing on his grandchildren,
he forgot he was looking for the
calculator, forgot he planned on
writing a poem and instead shut
down the computer and fled to the
couch for some necessary R&R.

It already had been a tough
morning and it was only 8:52.
He wondered what he might look
like by 8:52 p.m. He decided
not to think about it because
he could avoid the mirrors.

Busted for Spying

The man lies on the couch
awake after a short nap,
aroused from slumber by

the sound of the door
opening. His wife and
dog enter the kitchen;

he feigns sleep but has
his eyes open a sliver,
just enough to embrace

their images. The dog
makes for him, licks his
face; he groans as if

emerging from sleep but
then sighs deceptively
as if returning to deep

sleep. The dog leaves be-
cause the man’s wife is
fixing dinner for the dog.

Then his wife approaches
the couch and bends
down to kiss the man on

the lips, her blouse open-
ing to reveal extensive
cleavage. “Like the view,

dear?” she asks. “Now, be
a good boy, close your
eyes and go back to sleep.

We’ll talk later.” He could-
n’t stop the smile as she
turned and walked away.