Scott Withiam

May 22, 2019 Withiam Scott

As a peeper, some clear night, singing for a star,
I’ll hear my human doubt again. It will stop my singing
cold. I’ll think back to my high school buddies,
the four of us drunk, tossing stones into a camp fire
and waiting for one to explode,
and talking about our futures— teaching, medicine, law.
Sparks sent skyward. Serving our own somewhere
became confused with making millions. Stars. “I love you guys,”
I hear myself say, “but how long are we going to do this?”
Waiting for a stone to explode. No explosion.
What happens is the pine smoke pancakes and we scatter,
and when my buddies sit down again, I haven’t come back
yet. I’ve wandered to the lake, where, upon arrival,
a smallmouth bass completely lays out on shore
to snatch a frog. I never saw it sitting there.
I never saw anything like it— Did that happen?
a bass scooching backwards into the water
with live frog’s legs dangling out of its mouth.
When I got back to the fire, I told my buddies.
The bass, I said, saw the life it wanted,
nailed it. Occupation. Never gave it another thought.
I saw those struggling legs and thought, They look so human.
“Sit down and shut up,” one of my buddies said.
“I’ll sit,” I said, “but I’m not going to shut up.”

Scott Withiam’s second book of poetry, Door Out of the Underworld, was published by MadHat Press in October 2019. His poems are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Tampa Review, and I-70 Review.