Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 46
autumnal equinox, 2022

Featured artwork, The City, by Koss

New Works

Jennifer Woodworth

Of All the Ladders


Add the first few fish you see to your river, and the last, now subtract the river the fish no longer need. Take a limit of course and tell me what it means. What it all means. The fish here are not the tragedy they are downstream. Fish going either way downstream don’t count, every one of them unfurls then cancels. If you are a fish: Don't eat this eat that, don't eat worms, flick your tail over the whitewater, dance, bite bubbles, bite bugs at twilight. Eat damsels not figs, ficus and ant, we'll beat the tree thrice for nymphs. We toss twice the dice toss them in a puddle our betta fish devours the snake eyes the salmon is still alive in the creel the creel and fern bonk him on the head please no let him go leave the fish in the river let them climb the damn ladders or die trying I tie my flies to barbless hooks my hooks are barbless my barbs are wordless parts in pieces the matter is ceaseless carp are not to eat no! please! don't! swallow! that! hook! cut the line cut the line! I quit! Still, here I stand, stand still in the river where there should be so many steelhead they stand on their tails, we stand in the river cold water to our thighs, there aren't enough fish to even bother with wearing their tuxes still we cast hand-tied flies with barbless hooks, we're real men, real men fish with barbless hooks cast hand-tied stonefly damsel emerger nymph for steelhead salmon, steelhead climb ladders or die trying and taste like elk except they're fish of course fish climb the ladders, fish clamor for ladders, it's off it's all off, fish clamor for ladders birds pace in tight circles trees let loose their green leaves early empty churches seize careening bats pirates of penzance cancelled by bats—should we talk about the weather? Bats in the bell tower the bell tolls for three three thousand bats in the junior high school auditorium pirate play passé due to auditorium teeming with bats and a handful of bats flambé—bat the animal or bat the bat? What I meant to say to the fish was Read this not that: To sum the series, climb up the long ladder; if you see where you were born, you're home.


Jennifer Woodworth's website is Fishclamor.Wordpress.com