Saturday, March 10, 2012

Grout Fishing In America

Painting by Michael Haskins

Grout Fishing in America

I love the blaze of Autumn
as my beloved Maple leaves
give up their tender lives
for the privilege of changing color,
letting loose their sturdy grip
of thick gnarled branches,
sailing unfurled
on their maiden flight
and their last, too soon dropped
to ground, covering my verdant back yard
in a brittle Fall quilt.

But on these chilly mornings,
oh how I adore rising before cock’s crow,
heavily laden with creel, spinners,
hand-tied flies, and my red fiber glass pole;
pushing my old Dodge pick up,
swirling the last of summer’s dust,
hopping madly between washboard kisses
on that steep twisting road
to Palmer Lake, in order to sneak off
to the isolated south end,
where I will brave the prick of devil’s club,
the sting of nettles,
and the whiff of skunk cabbage,
because that is the best spot
to catch the wily grout.

I know that most serious anglers
won’t bother with the grout,
but hell, I’ve been catching them,
carefully skinning them, slicing off
their razor sharp and barbed fins,
flaying that deep purple meat,
dusting it lightly in flour,
frying them up crisp in bacon grease,
since my cuffs were rolled to my knees.

I grew up spit poor and hungry,
and one of the most valuable lessons
I received led to the wisdom
that hunger can be served
by consuming critters most revile;
rats, squirrels, coons, moles, weasels,
snakes, pigeons, and possums.

Grout will run up to several pounds,
and will bite on bright flies, or worms,
or even juicy fruit wrappers,
or raw hamburger, or salmon eggs.
They don’t fight. It’s like reeling in stones.
I doubt they comprehend their plight,
looking prehistoric with that third eye,
split double tail and spiny fins;
but I am here to tell you
you ain’t truly lived
until you’ve eaten one.

If you are curious enough,
just give me a jingle.
I got a dozen of them
in my freezer.

Glenn Buttkus

Listed as #6 over at dVerse Poets-Poetics 1999

Would you like to hear the author recite this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...

have def spent some time on the river side fishing...not sure i ever caught grout...mostly trout and peaceful out there in the early the little bit of reality in that when you are poor anything will do....

Claudia said...

for me the part with the hunting/fishing for food and preparing it yourself spoke most to me...the hamburgers and all that's already dead...hey...we eat lots of dead food...and this could also be a good metaphor... good piece glenn

Mama Zen said...

I really enjoyed this. Nothing beats fishing!

Anonymous said...

That lake is posted, I'll let it go this time, but watch it, I got your license number.
- Palmer

Anonymous said...

"covering my verdant back yard
in a brittle Fall quilt" ... Ooh, this is delicious.

"hopping madly between washboard kisses" ... Incredible! Perfectly describes the bounce.

"flaying that deep purple meat" ... mmmm, you make raw meat sound yummy

"looking prehistoric with that third eye" ... a third eye makes anything more intriguing


Grace said...

I have never gone fishing in that wee hours of the morning but you took us right there with you...Very nice retelling...though the first verse captured the mood for me ~

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Never seen a grout, unless it goes by another name in Texas, but this is one of the best fishin stories I ever did hear! Awesome write, my man!

sheila said...

oh, I don't know - look like an ugly creature. juicy fruit wrappers,seriously? lol

hedgewitch said...

You could fry me a table leg in bacon grease, and I'd be smackin my lips. Loved the fish tale, and the enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

Grout is the stuff you stuff up the cracks between the tiles with.\
......Juan Hu Nose

Beachanny said...

Nice capture of the spirit of fishing and the closeness it brings to nature. I think something close to the sinew happens to men in that environment. It's like a balm for something in their DNA.

Anonymous said...

I love the vividness of the poem, I can smell the grout burning (and my cat's purring)

But remember there are no reviled critters, it's humans who are vile and reviled; critters predate us by millions of years and will be here long after the human race obliterates itself, they are what keep the planet alive

Anonymous said...

To add to what I said above - critters predate us by millions of years....

- that is what makes a day spent in the middle of nature so magical and special and meditative and spiritual and inspiring and enriching, hence poems like these