Where Are the Boys, Pat Anthony

Dale Champlin, Bronzino with Fish, Collage, 2021

Where Are the Boys


with today’s catch
            of inky crayfish
            snagged with borrowed rods
                        down at the borrow pit

what dreams both creatures
            spinning in their boxed beds

how tangled the simplicity of lines
            cast and reeled in
            from various waters

seining with cupped hands
            I dream possibility
                        dream of their dreams

            remember then my brothers’
eagerness as they rode
            in the green Chevy to Bull Creek
            their joyful return

to Mother’s abrasive complaints
            even though my dad scaled the bass
                        on newspaper’s pink sheets

            pan fried them whole in cornmeal
                        served alongside
                                    crispy thin potatoes

all the time mother shrieking
            about bread and bones

in the room skeletons
            dangling spines clattering
                        head to tail

his not coming
            to go fishing again
                        lodging in our throats

like a loggerhead snapper
            taking the bait
            leaving us nothing.

Pat Anthony


Review by Toti O’Brien


I like how loss here articulates in a jagged and ragged form, angular and zigzagging, folding over itself, moving slightly aside, then suddenly biting. I like how the relationship between human and fish isn’t a metaphor but an indefinable form of collusion. How the fish/us collusion makes the idea of loss/absence/memory/longing enter the body in a way that is more than ingestion—it “lodges in our throat,” a kind of indelible marking. How the body is harpooned by memory and loss. I am struck by the power of the ninth stanza, the chasm opened by the glimpse at dangling spines, head to tail, skeletons in the room—and we are suddenly made aware of how deep the water might be under the muddy surface.


Review by Massimo Fantuzzi

Family bonds and old stories unfold here in a simplicity of lines that takes us back and brings the past forward, leaving one possible daunting realizations lodging in our throats: between fished and fishers, the difference lies in the simplicity of lines.

What happened to our brothers? What is now of their past eagerness and joy? What of those comforting family recipes? In the room skeletons dangling.

Between cast and reeled, a simple question of perspective, of whichever side of the river surface we happen to swim.

Only the entanglement of our dreams is guaranteed as we see that what unites us is much greater than what divides us: dreams slipping from cupped hands, dreams spinning in a box, dreams taking the bait living us nothing.

Today’s catch is a poem that keeps on giving, whichever side you decide to travel it.


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