Fishing the Kachemak takes
more than a hook in a mouth.
When the first catch, weighing
twice a grown man, fights back,
the gang of local fishermen
circle up to stop the thrashing.
After a club thunk to the head,
gaff to the side, the five men resort
to a curb stomp, a filleting knife
to the gill, then someone’s .410.
With bloodied shins, you wait
your turn. And then the young fish
they assign you suddenly squirms
in your hands like a newborn
from the womb, slick and risen
and held. You brace yourself
over the gunwale before the fishermen
form a crescent around you,
your back to the warm constant
of the gold sun. They hand you a club
and say, Don’t be a cunt.
With a fifth strike, the spinal cord
snaps, slips through your fist
like the string of a wind-swiped kite—
and it’ll be years before you know,
dipped in black waders, you were
half in your dark grave already.