John Kaprielian


The first birthday I can recall
was fifty years ago today
It’s my first memory
I was four
I remember the game
and a cake of rainbow
Jello that jiggled and swayed

But I was finally four
and that meant
I was a man
because I received
a real fishing rod
hand wound, with a
top quality DAM Quick reel

My father didn’t buy
kiddie tackle
crappy pushbutton Zebcos
and stubby molded
plastic rods

No, I was old enough
for a real reel
and a fine rod
and I knew I had
to take care of it
to be responsible
because now
I was a man

That summer I caught
a 13-inch pickerel
on a yellow worm
We nailed the head to a tree
to dry and preserve it
It stank and writhed with maggots
and 40 years later
my dog ate it

I still have my pole though
eventually the tip broke
when I was much older
and less responsible
and the reel
wore out from

But the rod has lasted
though my father is gone.
I am still a man
and so is my son.


I walk out the door
and the peonies
me that you’re
not here

You loved how they
would burst forth
slow motion fireworks
right around
your birthday

an empty day now
without celebrations
only memories of
celebrations past

yet I find myself
struggling to remember
those past birthdays
surely full of
fishing and laughter
and probably lobsters
and gin and love

The peonies are
huge and pink
their petals brimming
with the morning rain
like eyes
full of tears.

John Kaprielian is a Russian linguist by education and has been employed as a photo editor for three decades. He has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years; in 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and in 2013 published the 366 poems in a single volume, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse, available on Amazon. He has also had poems published on The Five-Two Poetry Blog, The New Verse News, and in Down in the Dirt Magazine. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Putnam County, New York with his wife, son and assorted pets.

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