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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

TITLE: Catfish on a Hot Tin Roof
By Beth LaBuff


(ballad of a bottom-feeder)

Through the middle of a cornfield
With its ripe and golden grain,
‘Round a waist-high prairie meadow
Wound a pot-hole riddled lane.
‘Twas there a shallow pool
Where a sign read, “Zoned – No wake,”
Named (with hopeful aspirations)
Was the pond called Mammoth Lake.

The pool, at its broadest point
Was scarcely ten feet wide,
And deep down in its shallow depths
A catfish did reside.
An educated catfish
For he’d memorized the rules
To graduate—top of his class
At M-L Catfish School.

The rules simply put were
Rule ONE— “Turtles are taboo,”
And “If it shines, don’t bite it,”
Was rule NUMBER TWO.
And if perchance th’ unthinkable,
You find a hook you’ve bit,
Then NUMBER THREE will save your fins
Just “Flop, then twist, and spit.”

Last June, the day was hot enough
To make a catfish sweat,
Something occurred this catfish
Wasn’t likely to forget,
A pickup truck came rolling to
The pond with boat in tow.
The boat was launched on Mammoth Lake,
The anchor dropped below.

Five feet from shore the boat bobbed in
The middle of the lake,
And in the boat, a tackle box
Was labeled “‘Zekiel Flake.”
Zeke wore his lucky fishing shirt
A rip upon his sleeve.
Where late last fall a fish hook caught
And corner-tore the weave.

An ice chest, also in the boat,
Was handy for the day.
He reached inside and grabbed some lunch—
On rye – P-B & J.
He set the sandwich on one knee
And when ‘twas aptly blessed,
He grabbed a portly earthworm
And then he closed the chest.

Zeke took a bite of sandwich,
And then threaded the hook
Straight through the earth worm’s belly
‘Til positioned in the crook.
He tossed the worm rig overboard,
Then cleaned his hands of dirt,
Another bite of sandwich then
He smoothed his lucky shirt.

The worm began to wiggle and
Continued his descension,
When near the catfish hovel,
Caught the catfish’s attention.
The catfish knew the rules ‘cause
He’d learned them long ago.
But as he watched he was enticed
By wriggly earthworm’s show.

The worm was pleasing to his eye,
And in his mind he thought,
If on the tail I nibbled, I’d not
Break the rules, as taught.
I’ll brush it with my whiskers
While the hook and worm I view
The more he watched, the more he
Schemed to bend rule NUMBER TWO.

The catfish took a nibble,
Then the bobber took a plunge.
The pole ‘bout lost within his grasp,
Zeke Flake was forced to lunge.
His peanut butter sandwich flew
And lost most of its jelly.
It flipped, bounced on his lucky shirt
Then landed on his belly.

Then Zeke Flake tugged upon the pole,
Securely set the hook,
The catfish—sins before him—
Rued the day the bait he took.
Zeke’s mouth watered for fish sticks,
Heard the sizzle in the pan,
Adrenaline pumped through his veins
And then— something unplanned…

Rule NUMBER THREE! the catfish thought,
To “Flop, then twist, and spit”
He sputtered out the fishhook
Then he turned his tail and split.
And Zeke thought sure he heard a “hiss”
Or possibly, a “meow,”
Besides the hook, the catfish spit
Pond water on Zeke’s brow.

Relief then coursed through catfish veins.
His plight, at one time grave,
The catfish and his whiskers
Had averted a close shave.
Old Zeke, bereft of dinner,
Spat upon his lucky shirt.
He rowed to shore and then he flung
His tackle in the dirt.

Then with relief, Zeke Flake recalled
More lunch— P-B & J!
The sandwich in his hand surpassed
The fish that got away.
The catfish vowed his fish lips would
Not eat worm meat again,
He’d only dine on plants, he’d be
A vegetarian.


My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Proverbs 1:10 KJV

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This article has been read 1540 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 02/18/10
I loved your "ballad of a bottom feeder"--lots of humorous lines to tell a fun story with a message.
Charla Diehl 02/18/10
I'm sure this was as fun for you to write as it was for me to read. Where do you get the ideas for some of your poems--they never cease to amuse your readers.
God has certainly blessed you with a talent to write these lighthearted story-poems that always have a message clearly tucked within the lines. Great job, as always.
Virgil Youngblood 02/18/10
Your delightful writing made this a fun read for this old fisherman. Thanks.
Noel Mitaxa 02/19/10
You reel-ly had me hooked! I read - and enjoyed - this with 'baited' breath. Very clever rhyming and timing.
Barbara Lynn Culler02/21/10
I really enjoyed reading this tale; had no clue as to who would win!
Earl Taylor02/22/10
Loved it! Will never catch another catfish without thinking of your list of rules... waiting til' spring! Great read... and I am not one to read poetry!
Mariane Holbrook 02/22/10
What a great entry! I wish I'd written it! I was hooked after the first line!
Lisha Hunnicutt02/22/10
Great poem! Poems don't often hold my attention, but this one sure did! I loved the main character's name too!
Jackie Wilson02/22/10
From beginning to end, pure delight to read. I read quickly, couldn't wait to get to the next verse. Great fun, and a message to boot!
Rachel Phelps02/24/10
This is beyond wonderful and hilarious. Well done!
Carol Penhorwood 02/24/10
MASTERFUL STORYTELLING AS ALWAYS! God has truly gifted you, Beth. I just LOVE reading your pieces! You make it seem so easy.
Chely Roach02/24/10
You're poems always amaze me. Loved the wit. Fantastic!
Sarah Elisabeth 02/24/10
Very entertaining piece of poetry with quite a message weaved in! lol, loved the parts of eating the PB & J while baiting the hook. Certain relatives come to mind...
Yvonne Blake 02/24/10
Phew! I was wonderin' there for a minute, if the the poor catfish would get away.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/24/10
This was such a delight to read. I'm so glad the catfish got away and learned his lesson. Hmm, I never thought I'd be rooting for a bottom-feeder. Good job!
Lollie Hofer02/24/10
Ditto to what everyone else said about this delightful poem. I liked how you tied in the scripture verse at the end. It brought a whole new dimension to the poem.
Margaret Kearley 02/25/10
|Congrats Beth. Very well deserved win. Absolutely brilliant!
Jackie Wilson02/25/10
Double congrats!! First place EC!! First place Masters!! Applause! Ovation! Great job, well done!
Joy Faire Stewart02/25/10
Congratulations on your 1st place win! Great message in this clever and fun poem.
Sarah Elisabeth 02/25/10
Whoohoo Beth! So awesome to see this on top, congratulations!
Noel Mitaxa 02/25/10
Congratulations Beth, a well-desreved win.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/25/10
I knew this would do well and I'm so happy for you. It was even better the second read through.
Beverly Caviness02/25/10
Another Great Job Bethy ~ Congratulations on your win.
Sheri Gordon02/25/10
Way to go, Beth. You are so creative, and such a masterful writer. I am a fisherwoman, and this cracked me up. Big congrats.
Earl Taylor02/25/10
I have only read this twice outloud to my staff... they think I am fixated on it... but now I get to tell them a lady wrote it!! I like it even better... will read it to the fishing campers this summer before we take them out for their day trips... great message for a young man to hear!!
Elizabeth Baize02/25/10
Congratulations!!! This is great. I love the unique perspectives that you always incorporate into your poems!
Sharlyn Guthrie02/26/10
Superb, as always, Beth, with a profound lesson to boot! Congratulations on your 1st place EC!!
Dianne Janak02/27/10
Beth, I am so happy for you. Reading this today made me smile and yet you always have a lesson learned weaved within your stories! I love FISHING and fish stories, so even more so I got into the juice of it and didn't spit it out! I digested it and it was GOOD! Girl you amaze me! Keep up the good work..CONGRATS and applause.
Congratulations on your win Beth, and thanks for the wonderful footnote scripture upon which you crafted these truly memorable and didactic lines.
You make me proud of being a FW and you are such a talented poet and teacher who has endeared yourself to all who have come across or read your graceful works,especially me. Thank you for writing and may God be praised for His gifts.
Betty Castleberry04/01/10
You seem to know fishermen well, lucky shirt and all. Enjoyed this fun poem.
Ernie Earth04/27/10
I enjoyed your poem very much. It seems that most of the poems I read these days do not rhyme. I prefer rhyming poems.