Dave Wright – Three Poems

His Whiskey

Copperheads stalk in pairs
The hayfield behind
The whiskey
Stills in frenzied summer

He carries a GI scythe,
Spare copper line, yeast
Forty gallons of mash
Through chiggers
And hardwood

It takes a slow week
To make good shine,
A little longer to settle

It takes two healthy snakes
To make a decent belt—
One is unfortunate.

It’s not uncommon
Every couple falls
A single copperhead
Coils dead in a jar,
Or holds still in wait for
A moon shinning man;

It’s not uncommon
Every couple falls
One overlooks the other.

The man dies of snake bite,
Or makes a belt.

His whiskey sells either way.


Family Rituals

deep in the confine of family rituals the soul
more like creek water flows
a patient man&woman encoded
biological webs of memory and driftwood

tucked in side channels,
we of the backwaters between
us dripping like centuries of water
striking graves await us

gentle creatures in the nooks of a river
raising histories from mud like cane

like pine tar in mid-drip will
flood like between fingers
the spoon minnows
come like rain, &
wade into calmer water

set for widest banks
on the river to pull
from the mouth of a hollow
fit to dress us in back country fields

like wild game
creek water flows
beautiful  & restrained

before it spreads
unbridled  into the old pine river
a few  counties  south  of the interstate



Fish hooks embedded they won’t forgive
He was dead in the river alone,
Clear black medicine

On a breath not his own name
Untangled from the farmer’s mouth.
Makes no difference to him

How the fish gets home,
Just that it’s his alive in the bucket
Long enough he eat well.

Like the onslaught of hounds
On a dead hare dressed by the river,
Trespassers find him there in mid-season.

Like a hot live wire whipping the highway
Fly twine snapped and broke at the river, like sap
Quietly they leave: his knife opened; his boots filled—


A trigger-back, a spoon-popper’s sweet corn,
A night-crawler his perfect lures of perch

Drifting out from his side downstream, bound
Someplace near a pump house the sun now

Born through the emptied burl of a pin oak,
Someplace a school of dead and dying minnows

Now collected in the bend of a drying river,
Somewhere near a baby bird, just a boy

Teaching himself new ways
To hold his father’s knife to the tree,

Somewhere that man just finished with it
Drown this morning beneath a sycamore.

Names of everyone who’d fished his spot
Return to the river—forgive them.