Poems by the “Wandering Aengus” (aka Timothy E. Haught)
Timothy E. Haught is an attorney,poet,novelist and fly fisherman living in New Martinsville,West Virginia. He is known to members of the WV Angler Message Board as “wanderingaengus.” His passion is fly-fishing,particularly in the mountains of West Virginia.
Ode To A Wild Brook Trout
One day, I wandered far alone,
As I am often prone to do,
Through mountain laurel, fern, and stone,
Where once red cedars grew.
Along the banks of a little stream,
I followed till at last I came
Upon a lost, idyllic scene
Of rushing water, clear as rain.
I cast to ease the pain within,
To find some hope of solace there—
A tiny fly spun at my desk,
Into the crisp and brightening air.
An imitation of the real,
The highest form of praise to God,
It fell upon the stream, surreal
And floated as I grasped my rod.
A pied fish rose there, hungrily,
Its color’s blazing in the sun.
It smacked the fly! I set the hook!
It made a bold and desperate run!
Now of the struggle, I can tell,
It was not trout or man that won.
No, I am not ashamed to say
That we, two rivals, were but one.
I wore the dogged rascal out
And gently took him in my hand.
It was a dappled, wild trout
No more than six inches in span.
His belly was a burst of orange,
The hue of Hemingway’s sunset,
His back the shade of evergreens,
His flanks with jewels of crimson set.
As I stood and pondered thus,
In awe and wonder, to be sure,
A strange voice interrupted us.
It echoed from the farthest shore:
“If you ain’t gonna keep it, toss it in my cooler.”
I looked up and there beheld
Another native of our state
Who in his sole possession held
Five brook trout brook who had met their fate.
“What you staring at?” he asked,
As I released the noble fish.
“Darn it, fool!” he yelled at me,
“I would’uv had my limit, six!”
The spell once cast upon the place
Was broken then and there for me.
So, I wandered back unto my truck
And poured a shot of smooth whiskey.
What makes a man keep such a fish,
The sacred symbol of our state,
To gill and gut it at his wish
And fry it for the dinner plate?
Someday, I hope we change the way
We think about this special fish
And cherish it for what it is,
A beautiful and precious gift.
“Beauty is trout, trout beauty.”
Ode to a Wild Brown
In a dream, I stood upon the river
In the tail of a flat and somber pool.
The barren sky, it made me shiver,
Its countenance was stark and cruel.
Into a cheval glass, I stared—
Searching for something beside the truth.
I sought a faint reflection there,
The faded visage of my youth.
Was it vanity that drove me there,
Alone, to ponder and reflect
Or bitterness from age and care
Or, worst of all, regret?
What was it that the mirror said?
What secrets did its depths conceal?
The worn face of an aging man
Was all it would reveal.
Finally, a tremor stirred
The surface of the looking glass.
The likeness of myself was blurred
By ripples of trout rising fast.
A tiny fly, its wings outstretched,
I cast amidst a spinner fall.
Its image on the pool was etched,
Fragile and ephemeral.
Faint, almost imperceptible,
The rings that marked its stealthy rise—
The take, nearly invisible
As darkness veiled my tired eyes.
A heavy slab of butter flashed,
Olive, gold and yellow-brown!
For the bottom of the pool it crashed,
As my heart began to pound!
A brutal struggle then ensued
Between me and the hook-jawed trout.
It would not quickly be subdued,
Defeated in a sudden rout.
We stood inside the ring together,
Eye to eye and toe to toe,
And fiercely pummeled one another
With no mercy, blow by blow.
Defiantly, it glared at me.
It shook and set the depths aglow,
Adorned with spots of ebony
And scarlet rimmed with pale halos.
It ran again, then doubled back—
Its body thrashing violently.
I countered it with forceful tact.
It dove for cover, desperately!
On and on, the fight continued
Until the end was close at hand,
Straining every nerve and sinew
Within the weary trout and man.
Till on a gravel bar I knelt,
And bowed in honor to my foe.
I trembled there for what I felt,
Then, bravely, let my trophy go.
Let lesser men hang carcasses
Of wild trout upon their wall
As tokens of their arrogance
And folly, all in all.
“Beauty is trout, trout beauty.”
Catch and release wild trout!
Ode to a Wild Rainbow
I stood amidst the riffles there
And cast a streamer, down and across—
Its wing, bright red and yellow hair,
Its rib, gold tinsel, its body, floss.
The water cold against my skin,
Numbed my aching heart and soul.
I let the streamer sink and swim,
Submerged, along a rocky shoal.
A flash of silver, pink and red
Engulfed the swing fly.
Its thunder echoed in my head
As it hurtled toward the sky.
It was a brightly colored bow!
Its blood was up! Its spirit high!
It bounded from the world below
And straightly gazed into my eyes.
An eternity, I stood transfixed
Held captive by its dreadful stare—
A man imprisoned there betwixt
Realms of water and of air.
It shattered both of them as glass.
Its brilliance lit the depths below.
My line and leader held it fast.
They would not let the rainbow go.
My body, mind and rod were bent,
My heart and reel began to scream,
Until both man and trout were spent
In single combat on the stream.
At last, it yielded to my net.
Its colors fervent, unsubdued.
Its body glimmered, firm and wet
Until, withal, its strength renewed.
Its spine, like gravel from the bed
Of an ancient river’s flow
And on its sides were bands of red
And pink the shade of morning’s glow.
For a moment there, I knew its thoughts.
I peered inside its very soul
And understood what God had wrought
In unknown ages, long ago.
Then quickly, I removed the hook.
In triumph, I adored my foe.
I gently dropped it in the brook
And let my adversary go.
I left the water born again,
My creel and conscience clean.
For I had found a kindred spirit in,
The riffles of that stream.
“Beauty is trout, trout beauty.
Catch and release wild trout.