Two Poems from Zack Fishel


This one is for the people who put ranch
dressing on everything
and collect different colored bingo dotters
because each day needs a
lucky spotter.
For grandmas who let you traipse the
woods all day but scream if
you are two minutes late after sundown for
dinner and haven’t washed up.
The kid with a Plano tackle box cracked on top
filled with rooster tails and meal worms
and a backpack full of dad’s
premium lager for a weekend
fishing trip.
The mudrunners and mountain racers
who know the worse the weather the more
exciting things become.
This is for bragging rights on the farm
pond after hauling in an eight pound
bass with four pound line.
The man with the fastest buck knife,
or the biggest gun rack in the pick-up.
Illegal firecrackers explode like
sandstone fire rings and worn hands
wielding popcorn and mountain pie makers.
This is for everyone with a crazy uncle who
would save a stranded traveler and
invite the neighborhood over for Wrestlemania.
Family reunions are only ever a debauch of
old folks dancing to polkas
and serving potato salad,
as your little brother pisses from the tire swing because
the bathroom is full.
You can move me all around but my mountain
heart knows, soon enough,
the way to Pennsylvania.

Hard-knocks Aren’t Over in High School

If it was fifth grade we
wouldn’t be concerned with the fact
that owl pellets
are vomit and undigested bones mixed
with death and the shuddering of rodents.
The glue sticking fingers to
construction paper and individual
digits as under the nails gnawed
nervous boys finally
feeling it for the girl
with awkward glasses and crossed
We would think about it like an old
remembering there are still eagles
on the backs.
A trailer park girl in expensive panties
climbing into your
lap for the first time
as you hope your
rusted bike chain
peddles you home.
A second cough after forced
ten dollar bourbon.
The scatter of keys typing a rhythm
and eyes drooping at the end
of a hike in mid-winter.
We fight for more and lose morals
attempting to fling ourselves
out for someone
hoping to catch butterflies but only
snagging cicadas.

Zach Fishel is the University of Toledo Press Graduate Fellow. He has had work appear in many print and online journals and is a poetry editor at Jumping Blue Gods.