I went down to the stream to fish for a poem.
It finned under the lee side of a mossy boulder,
not about to venture out for anything so obvious
as an iamb. I tried a silver anapest, then a
flashy hendecasyllabic lure. Nothing doing.
Then I attached the promise of a prize
in the Southern Review. Honorable mention—
that old, rusty, barbless hook. No luck.
The borrowed effusion of salmon eggs
came next, but they got snagged
on somebody else’s line. So I clamped
on a lead-shot sinker or two with my back molars
and let the native earthworm—the one I had found
beneath the rotting bark of my conscience—
writhe to the bottom of the pool.
The poem darted out from the rock and took
the worm, the hook, the reel.
I felt it quivering in my creel—
then let it go, into this wild and babbling book.
— Paul Willis, from Say This Prayer into the Past