Tim Suermondt

The Fish May Still Complain

Wang Wei said a beautiful line in a poem
is not enough. He’s right, but I enjoy
a beautiful line even when overall
the poem has failed that flare of beauty.
It’s like meeting a charming woman
in a sporting goods store, making you forget
the fishing rod you came there to buy,
the one on sale, the one that guarantees
you’ll catch any kind of fish you can imagine
reeling in. The woman leaves. You leave,
but with the rod securely in your hands,
hoping in your belief it will live up to its promise.



My father is starting
his final journey, in the emergency ward,
and there I am, leaning over him


with my awkward concern, listening
for the first words he’ll say once he sees me:

“Did you lock the door before you left?”


How I’ve admired his skill, his genius for detail
and how embarrassed I’ve been, many times,
by my wayward approach to such serious attention.


But I did lock the door to my apartment,
all the possessions, the few treasures safe.
I show my father the keys.

Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest: Josephine Baker Swimming Pool from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine, Smartish Pace, Innisfree Journal, The Fortnightly Review, Poet Lore and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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