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