Grandfather and Grandson Bank Fish at Archie

Poem by Cody Smith
Artwork by Clinton Van Inman

                                                for J. Neal

Downhill from the T-Towne gas station
we fish Little River. Last night you dug
Coke jugs from trashcans, filled them with water,
and sat them in the freezer. We sip at them
now as the long morning sun surfs
the wakes made by aluminum-hulled boats
passing. We came to fish white perch,
but the stripped bass are biting. Chartreuse rubber
threads tied into a ball, a dollop of chrome
on a swivel churning. Our Walmart Zebco reels thud
our palms. From your pants pocket you pull
a threadbare dishtowel, dip it into melting ice water
in the red and white cooler we use for a seat,
and with it you cover your burning neck. Nearly every cast
gets a bite. By God, you holler when I set another hook.
A man fumbles a pickup backwards down the ramp.
He wets the boat with river, tells his boy to go
hold the rope so the boat doesn’t drift in tide
water while he parks the truck. By God, you holler
again. The boy turns, surveys me reeling
another one in, looks on as you crawl the bank
and reach in warm water to find the line, watches you
pull out the hook and drop the fish into the cooler,
dip your rag in again. By God, boy, you tell me,
smiling. Over the levee eighteen-wheelers whirl
there last few miles home, while in your chest
your heart massages the blood lapping your body
on its own power for nearly the last time.

Cody Smith sojourned his way from Louisiana to the Washington state where he's an MFA candidate at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers. A southerner, homesickness for bayous, sea level, and Tony Chachere's finds its way into his work. 

Clinton Van Inman grew up in North Carolina, graduated from San Diego State University in 1977, taught in South Carolina and is currently a high school teacher in Tampa Bay where he lives in Sun City Center, Florida with his wife, Elba.


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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.