Net Losses

And that year
Hardly returned at all, the opening
For two days only, and we took only eight
Sockeye (and some chum)
And didn’t even make
The price of fuel.  And we blamed
Each other, and we blamed
The Indians, and the government, and
The loggers of watersheds. And we blamed El Niño,
And development on the riverbanks,
And the builders of dams.

And we cast a net
Across Seymour Street, but the cars
Were wise to it, and we caught nothing
That day, either, except camera crews
And a few scribblers with laptops, who said
Maybe we’d taken the good years
Too well.

And the banks
Foreclosed on a few, because they hadn’t
Made provisions.  And the banks
Would not make provisions
Or, as they said, exceptions.

And the government cracked down
On us for abuse of UI,
Because we had asked for it, they said,
And the rest of the community had asked
For it, and there was no money, anyway.

Because the banks had to have
Their money, and we didn’t want
The country going belly up, did we?

And someone threw mercury
In an Indian boat, and someone killed
An Alaskan, who’d had a good year.

And some men beat their wives
For asking questions
They’d already asked themselves
Without answer.  But the judges
Were easy with them.

And that year
I slept on the couch
With the TV on and my dinner rotting
In the microwave, and my beer
Going flat on the table, because
Doing nothing takes a lot out of you,
And there was never anything on, anyway.

And I prayed to El Niño
To be happy with his havoc,
To leave us in peace the next year,
To let next year show a return.

But I don’t speak Spanish.
Who can say if El Niño heard me?


© Mark Milner, Vancouver

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