Oxford Stroud Recollects Fishing with Electricity

By R. T. Smith b. 1947
I’ve caught fish everwhichaway they can be.
On the Chattahoochee River I’ve used nets, gigs,
trot lines, and bare hands. Even electricity.
One day Braleigh and me caught so many
that two-ended punt boat nearly went under.
We were boys and didn’t know any better.
Catfish were plentiful as water for all
we could figure. That was back then.
We’d wrap the copper pipe and drop it in,
then use the telephone battery to make a wet cell
of that whole muddy dogleg of the river.
The small channel cats would rise, then
recover, but big whites and blues would float,
belly up, and we’d haul ’em in, fill the boat
to the oarlocks with fresh fish to eat or sell.
Their backs shined so bright it was a wonder.
But let me tell you this: it was also a danger.
If you caught the coil wrong or touched iron
binding on that old craft with a live wire,
it was enough to knock you on your ass.
A man could get killed just trying to catch fish.
Of course, such a method was a sin against Jesus
and man, fish and fresh water, but we didn’t savvy.
We were just free as gnats for the summer,
a little enterprising and a little hungry.
Besides, we hadn’t heard of sport or mercy.
That was a cooter’s age ago. That was then.

R. T. Smith, “Oxford Stroud Recollects Fishing with Electricity” from The Hollow Log Lounge. Copyright © 2003 by R. T. Smith. Used with the permission of the poet and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: The Hollow Log Lounge (2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet R. T. Smith b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Sports & Outdoor Activities, Activities

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue

 R. T. Smith


Poet R.T. (Rod) Smith was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Georgia and North Carolina. He earned a BA in philosophy from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and an MA in English from Appalachian State University. His collections of poetry include From the High Dive (1983), The Cardinal Heart (1991), Hunter-Gatherer (1996), Trespasser: Poems (1996), Split the Lark: Selected Poems (1999), Messenger (2001), Brightwood . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sports & Outdoor Activities, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.