Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: May 17, 2010 Archive

An Epic Weekend

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 17, 2010 by Dale Connelly (33 Comments)
Filed under: Poetry


I hope you had a lovely fishing opener weekend, whether it was spent in the heart of the whirlwind on I-94 north of the Twin Cities, or fleeing from the madness in some other direction, like, say, into the dark comfort of a movie theater.

I headed north, and things being what they are with traffic and timing, will return as a live presence in the studio tomorrow. My trip has actually had more to do with golfing than fishing, but I have been thinking about our scaley friends and those who chase them around Minnesota's lakes. It put me in mind of Longfellow's epic poem "Song of Hiawatha", which is made up of over 5300 unrhymed lines that are each 8 syllables long. "Hiawatha" rhythm was modeled after the trochaic tetrameter of another very long poem, the Kalevala of Finland.

Each of these poems can be as tedious as waiting for traffic to clear on the interstate around Albertville on Friday afternoon or Sunday evening. You will be pleased to see that my inspiration is only 7 verses long, though you might still lose interest about halfway through. Not to worry - the ending is inconclusive. The combatants live to fight another day.

By the shores of Didju Catchmee
Where the fishes meet their slaughter
Stood a walleye called Nokomis
Who, of course, was quite enormous.
Covered with a lakey liquid
Dripping from his fins and flippers
Dripping from his scales like diamonds
Dripping into shining puddles

Said Nokomis to me loudly
In a voice so damp and boastful
With a venom underlying
"I have you again eluded!"
"I the fish you came to butcher."
"Took your worm, I did, and then some."
"Took your rod and reel beside it."
"Now your pride is mine forever."

"Nasty fish," said I, repugnant.
"Do not taunt me with your blather."
"Do you think I care a farthing
That your carcass still is swimming?"
"I came here to drink hard liquor
quaffing beers with my good buddies."
I am eating cheese all weekend.
I like nachos more than walleye."

Quite enraged was great Nokomis
By my strange but true admission.
Wheezing through his gills he fixed me
With one frosted glassy eyeball.
"Are you saying you pretended
to be seeking my destruction
and you never meant to catch me
Thus my freedom is your doing?"

"Or would you have killed me gladly
and discarded me to fester
while you dined on corn and lactose
In a campground near Bemidji?"
Carefully I framed my answer
For the walleye called Nokomis
He, the mighty water dweller
He could walk on land, the devil.

"What I meant to say, Nokomis,
is that you have drained my motor
of it's energy to catch you.
You who tore my line asunder
With my rod and reel absconded
You who dove beneath the surface
You who ate the worm to spite me
Bested me with fishly courage."

Hearing this, the fish Nokomis
Stood a little taller, even
Than a fish should stand at lakeside
And with one more glare of loathing
Dove into the churning water
Took his leave of me completely
Once again a slimy victor
On his favorite sporting weekend.

What is your favorite tale about the one that got away?

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