Gotcha some bullheads, I see. Hap
pulled us into dock, bullheads carpeted
our boat's floor, fins surrounded our feet.
When they're biting, nothin's
more fun than pulling 'em in..
Ready to pull anchor, the first strikes
stunned us. Our reels spun and rods
tipped as catfish dipped for the deep.
My dad's excitement nearly swallowed
the stump of his partly chewed cigar.
Discarding my Hemingway novel,
I leaned into grace under pressure
to land fish after defenseless fish.
Goose Martin and I hit a strike one night
and filled a garbage can while it lasted.
The wide yellow heads adorned with timeless
barbels rested in the alien world of our sport
while knowing eyes mocked our amusement.
Three pounds of infinitely formed flesh
tempted by minnow disguised hooks.
Underwater boxcars, they lack the stylish
design of the sleek northerns and walleyes,
elusive muskies, the flare of the bluegills.
Scavengers, bottom feeders, controllers
of the night, their defensive fins disabled.
What shall we do with these? We have
a couple of nice walleye for our supper,
and we're leaving in the morning.
I'll smoke the suckers. Hap eyed the catch
with relish, mixing mental barbecue sauce.
The last fish gasped for air as my departing
sneaker nudged his dream, visioned minnows
swam just beyond his open mouth.