John Repp

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 133

The Last Time I Went Fishing Was The Last Time We Went Fishing

—for Joe Freeman

I don’t remember us ever fishing. I remember talking
   about fishing & that time I dropped by the house
       & D said (chuckling her Elmer Fudd chuckle)

He’s out the spillway thinking straight, whatever that means
   so I found you & we killed mosquitoes & smoked up,
       the air all marsh-funk, frog-loud, cattails & sawgrass

silhouetted against the horizon, your rod-tip nodding,
   almost no words. My dad’s insurance-payout boat
       with the twin Chrysler 350s? I remember Dave & I

braced at the stern, bouncing bait off the bottom,
   Dad—bald Zorro in a scale-flaked bucket hat—
       cocking an ear, his gorgeous Fenwick a fencing foil

carving Zs in the air, that hairy piston of a right arm
levering each flounder—thick as his spread hand,
broad as a dinner plate—into the cooler to slap

a few times while Dave & I clapped & caught nothing.
   I think Dad did that Errol Flynn thing with the rod
       for our benefit. He could be like that sometimes.

It could have been the other Dave that day, but never
   C.J. or Dan. You & I never fished, but I remember
       the time we didn’t know we’d left the food & water

home till we pitched the tent after dark, so we hiked
   to Chatsworth at dawn, eating snow, you snarling,
       me ranting innocence, the pines thinning at last,

the cold briny & metallic, then the crossroad & Buzby’s,
   the throaty wood stove, the borrowed dime that bought
       J’s voice, she & D pulling up an hour later for smoky,

salty kisses, then the drive home, the feast of bologna
   & snack pies I’d begged for, the story of our doings
       all down 206 to Buena, the big bend right to Wheat,

the naps in our gimcrack homes. No one could forget that.


Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.




Bedbugs


In the days when every story began We drop acid
   on the loading dock then we’re doing sixty in the breakdown lane the tunnel
           spirals like the credits on
The Outer Limits or the insides
     of that cigar tube Judy rolled between her palms
we drop acid
down by the harbor & Shelly puts on Little Feat in somebody’s apartment
         & wow wow wow the congas! & Meg’s boyfriend calls
     saying he’s got the new Alan Price & much dope, so we all somehow
        motor back to the harbor & climb inside Price’s organ way over
the street, right under the gabled roof of the mansion the boyfriend housesits
            but the owners died last year, everything the same except
         they’ re dead, so Check it out! somebody says The beds are still made!
        says the boyfriend, plucking a little white hunk of something
from a nostril as everyone at the party has suavely done from time to time
      & since we check out everything we run across during this trip
          called Life Meg tugs just the two of us through many rooms
        (each tinier than the last) where servants & maybe slaves once lived
but which now shelter the bliss she’s found with the boyfriend
                till an empty black doorway
      appears & she says Have fun! so we step down the steep, lightless stairs
        spiraling a little less void-black but no less cramped & airless
            each step but the last three, which ease us
      through an archway into a softly moonlit hall, the whole mansion ours
        but Doctor-Phibes-spooky & clammy & creaky & a bunch more
            B-movie adjectives we moan from room to room,
screaming tiny, horror-movie-baby screams & oh! the big high beds! so slip in
              & poof! no clothes & one of us bends a little more
          languidly than necessary over the bed to untuck the spread
            & reveal the pillows & peel the sheets & it’s so hot
down here by the harbor the other glides to the window, which someone has painted shut
    & sweat has begun to shine both our delightful bodies & we ponder
        each perception & live inside it & exercise every other power
            the teeny droplet we sucked
from the blotter paper bestows & find ourselves reclining
                where the dead rich people might last have lain,
       a notion that arrives in two minds at once, then the mutual,
          instantaneous laughter, the mutual movements that further
wet our skins & one of us says while shifting an elbow & stretching a leg What’s that?
            & you already know what we concluded the brown dot,
    then the many brown, possibly moving dots, then the undulating sheet,
then the damp stench rising off the mindlessly moving surfaces of the room,
        then the three possibly meaningless bits of something two-thirds the way
    to the foot of the bed signified,
          but we couldn’t swear to it,
                though we inspected the big, high, canopied bed
        to the limits of our powers, sensing everything I’d swear to
                to my dying day.

Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.




The Patricia Poem

...and whose/favorite ghosts will we be someday? Who, who, who? Linda Lee Harper

I propose Patricia,
who called me “Master”

on the flyleaf of the cookbook
on which I still rely to time

the simmering of legumes.
I feel compelled to say

“Master” refers to a degree
I’d earned & humility

requires I say what I’d done
for the degree had earned

me nothing but the knowledge
that I knew a pollen grain’s

mass more than nothing,
just like, come to think of it,

now. I never think of Patricia.
For all I know, she’s a ghost.

Maybe she & Don hoo hoo
their revenant selves through

the cinderblock walls of the bunker
they built north of a place

I won’t name. Maybe that prime
ganja they tended still keeps

the deer & spiders happy.
That summer, Chris & I helped

Patricia toot a pile of prime
cocaine & were “there”

for her as she wept & tittered
over the precocious wisdom

her high-dash;school diary revealed
& sang whispery versions

of Carly Simon songs.
I’ve forgotten what pain

tormented her. This is all
to say Please spare every soul

I’ve loved
. In the permanent
silence, I talk with them

& for now—coffee cooking
in the kitchen, eggs & toast

buttered on my plate—
every word is good.

Copyright © 2020 by John Repp.

About the Author
John Repp, a native of the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey, has lived for many years in northwestern Pennsylvania. His latest book is Fat Jersey Blues (University of Akron Press, 2014).