Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fly-ku: The Art of Haiku on the Art of Fly Fishing

From the confines of the strictest of Japanese disciplines,
Men wielding the pen, as it were, as a weapon of defense—
One wrong move, and perfection of life destroyed.

The first two lines, contrast, divergence. A duet of duality.
With a final phrase that magically coheres,
Almost impossibly bleeding the couplet 
into watercolor lovers…an inspirational liquifaxion of differing ideas.
So, too, is the art of fly fishing…
Also, true, a creation of perfection and order,
The most sublime of creatures, in the simplest of elements;
A brief evanescence of Man amidst the endless descent of water.

Both arts dependent upon the tautest of lines,
A most delicate approach, unreserved control,
And the freest sense of imagination to hear those ever-so-subtle utterances of Nature.

But since art is rarely satisfied,
Since bliss so distant, and originality aloof,
The artistic union of the two seemed inevitable, natural.

With bamboo and silk, with ink and paper, with mastery and craft, and time and patience,
Just as poets weaved their thoughts, inscribing their parchment,
Just as anglers enter the river, ensnaring their game,
These, as well, shall coexist in the ethereality of the artful mind.

Together, here, yes. One after another,
But intended to exist in isolation, to stand alone,
Demanding, of their own respect, their oneness, their singularity,
As do the majestic trout in the pools of our dreams.

Take these eternal marriages of art, quick breaths of creation,
And caress them in their dreamy states, but do not allow one to influence the other,
As gravity influences the water, this, my friends, may destroy their identities.

Sparkling ribbons flow.
Below, the speckled rainbow—
each in the other.

Stones wait in silence
while fish and insects rush past,
upstream, and then down.

The fly gently drifts.
From below, the fish rises.
Splash! The two vanish.

The sun rises high.
The prone river roars below.
I bathe in them both.

The boughs of the pines
sway to and fro in the breeze
like crafted bamboo.

Erosion’s dull tool...
Trout spring forth from the green deep—
Life’s endless cycle.

Water rushes past
as my line slowly unfurls
in its perfect loop.

Wandering about
like a child lost in a crowd—
this river is home.

Much like the bee’s flight,
water’s winding path does not
seem deliberate.

Fighting the current,
the fish never seem to rest.
I fight fish to rest.

Braided waterways
separate these fallen stones—
…each cleanse the other.

Bugs swim through the air
as trout fly up from beneath…
and so goes the Dance.

Swarming above and
below, the water betwixt foes
cannot possess them.


Pockets behind stones
hold trout tightly, though their grasps
are far too subtle.

When the sun and the
trees and all in the river
fade, I too shall wane.

Mathew Arnold wrote,
“Nature, let me learn from thee.”
And thus, I found me.

The pines and I stand
as sentinels over the
prone kings below us.

Rocks divert the stream—
the steam arranges the stones…
Which one persuades which?

The trout’s world and mine
are separated by the
thinnest of unions.

About Mac

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I am W. Chad McPhail. I'm an outdoor/travel writer, book author, former English teacher, and Amarillo native. 

I spend my spare time traipsing around the mountains and streams of the southwest in search of wild trout with my family, friends, various freeloaders, and other flotsam and jetsan. I used to teach English & Creative Writing. These days I am a Right of Way field agent with Coates Field Service, representing Sharyland Utilities during the construction of a 345 megawatt transmission line from Hereford to Panhandle, Texas. I love exploring the outdoors, fly fishing, backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking, and yes, writing outdoor and travel books and pieces. I am a field writer of flyfishing, backpacking, camping, and kayaking articles for I have written many articles for magazines such as Southwest Fly Fishing, Texas Fish & Game, Rocky Mountain Game & Fish,, and more. I have co-penned three books with fishing buddy Mark D. Williams; Colorado Flyfishing: Where to Eat Sleep Fish, 49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado, and An Introduction to Fly Fishing for Trout.