Oak Island Pier
Fishing rods are sea urchin spikes
jutting and waiting for strikes
that never jolt this moment.
One stingray hooked.
Fishermen swap fishy stories,
baiting hooks, casting into the swells.
Tawny-brown birds—darker wings and tails—
hop on fish-scaly railings, fuss in jeebs and chirps.
A splinter from a bench catches
my little toe, fishhook-deep,
but undeterred I step to the end.
Dig it out later.
No king mackerels nibble.
An old couple ebbs by a scaling sink.
Those birds, black reptile eyes piercing,
stalk on the railing.
Under a rim-frayed cap he looks up.
Bait snatchers. That’s what we call ‘em—bout
steal shrimp off the hook before it hits the water.
At dusk from my balcony,
my binoculars show the next tide
arriving with poles, bait buckets, coolers,
holstered fish knives, windbreakers, smokes,
the new moon unblinking.