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Friday, July 22, 2011

Number 224: Richard Brautigan "Your Catfish Friend"

Your Catfish Friend

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."

-- Richard Brautigan

Hap Notes: Big apologies! I had this post and forgot to publish it. So it's very very late (already Saturday! so I'll just owe us a poem at the end of the year.) Luckily, Brautigan is charming whenever you chance to read him.

I'm not quite sure what kind of catfish Brautigan is talking about with the "scaffolds of skin"– the Mississippi River catfish of my youth were sleek. The loricarioids have an "armored" look (and are often called armored catfish") I have included both types in the masthead.

I just have to say that it is very typical of Brautigan's humble self-worth that he would choose this particular fish as an avatar. The bottom feeding catfish is, in many ways, one of the lowliest of creatures. They were, however, when I was a kid, particularly fine eating, as were bullheads. The catching of a catfish involved a great deal of fussing as one tried to ignore the "barbs" of his whiskers. And you skin a catfish, you don't de-scale one since they don't have scales.

I'll never forget my first exposure to this – the catfish or bullheads are nailed to a board by the head (well, they are dead at this point anyway) and the skin is peeled down with a pair of pliers. That's how I saw it done in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Don't know how other fisher-persons do it, though. It's not a pretty sight, really.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah– the poem, sorry. Didn't mean to kick all of the charm out of the Brautigan. It's very sweet how he would like to be a calming influence on someone even if he was a fish. He was really like that, too.

Here's where we've talked about Brautigan before:

Since it's Saturday, a few fishy cartoons:

This is Chilly Willy- he's so cute. Seriously.

Here's a Joe Cartoon song, "I'm a Little Catfish"

Here's the Drew Nelson lush cover of the same song:

Here's the very unusual Diver Dan with the talking fish puppets:

Here's a Dick and Larry cartoon with jolly fish:

My mom and I used to sing this all the time– "At The Codfish Ball." This one is Betty Boop. The lyrics are clever.

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