Tithing Beers


The crappie deep, I troll my plugs, the Model A Bombers my uncle used in holes, off points, pre-spawn, for fish transitioning. One rod on either side spread wide, one short, one long, “curb feelers,” he would say. Back in the day, he’d wink, “I’ll tithe a Schlitz to them,” when bites were scarce, an excuse to drink a morning beer, as if I didn’t know the truth, and take a slug then dip the empty can and fill it full with river and let it sink. He’d tap his pipe then pack it full. This magic I believed in. Something about the shine, the wavering as it passed by fish suspended, must have perked their instincts right. Always, the bite picked up. The day he lay in bed and said goodbye to us, his liver gone, his gut give up, I wanted magic again, which never came. He mumbled in his death and hissed and cussed, DTs provoking visions more than pain or lack of food. And when he slipped away, my aunt said he had gone with God. I wanted to believe that magic, too. I pop another beer. I check the drags and steer the bend. I tithe a can.

ADAM VINES is an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is editor of Birmingham Poetry Review. He is the author of Out of Speech (LSU Press, 2018) and The Coal Life (University of Arkansas Press, 2012) and coauthor of Day Kink (Unicorn Press, 2018) and According to Discretion (Unicorn Press 2015) His recent poems have appeared in Southwest Review, The Hopkins Review, Ecotone, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, 32 Poems, and The Greensboro Review.