Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on March 2, 2014 0 Comments

This is a tribute to Dr. Suess, his 1947 book McElligot’s Pool and the life-long influence it’s had on me.

Nuclear Fishin’

It all started with the requisite

Theoretical text.

Always a good idea

For the test that comes next.

In this case the professor

Was the good Dr. Seuss,

Who’s well known for putting

His thinker to good use.

His assistant young Marco

Expounded his case

With an attitude exemplary

For the whole human race.

If, he determined,

He was patient and cool,

He might catch all kinds of fish

In McElligot’s pool.

I read and reread

What Mario might catch,

Unconcerned it was all

An impossible stretch.

In my brain I knew there were

No high jumping friskers.

But my heart said I might catch

A catfish with whiskers.

I lived near a lake,

And at age six or seven,

I imagined it must be

A fisherkid’s heaven.

So, out to the woods

(It was right next door)

To cut myself a pole–

My sporting goods store.

Then, find my dad’s

Rarely used tackle box

For hook, line, and sinker

To fish off the dock.

Under our leaf pile

At the edge of the woods,

Was a digging and wiggling

Worm neighborhood.

I gathered some wigglers

And pulled out some crawlers,

Not knowing if fish

Like the bigger or smaller.

With a Maxwell House can

Of gourmet fish food,

And a Seuss-induced

Can-do attitude,

I was ready to catch

All the pike, perch, and bass

Or whatever other bounty

Might come to pass.

Walk the dirt road

Down to the lake;

My hopes were as high,

As Alice’s rabbit was late.

Out on the dock

In the boat well canal,

I could see them in bunches–

A pan fish corral.

Now, two things you need

To understand here,

Because they remained true

Year after year:

Those schools of fish

Were all kindergarten.

Their schooldays as fish

Were only just startin’.

And when they advanced

I never could figure,

Because they never

Seemed to get any bigger.

The second thing is

For such little guys,

They were awfully smart,

But not very wise.

They’d flock round my hook

Like a bunch of electrons,

Nip the worm off the hook

But hardly ever get on.

You’d think that eventually

They be satisfied

And stop taking the risk

Of ending up fried.

But they kept coming back

To try their luck,

And sooner or later,

One would get stuck.

By being patient,

As Dr. Seuss taught,

After a while,

I had a bunch caught.

The trouble was

These were atomic fish,

Very much smaller

Than the fish that I wished.

I did have my standards,

I want you to know,

Smaller than five inches

Got thrown back to grow.

The rest I took home

And I cleaned them and froze ‘em,

And after a while

I had several dozen.

Once in the summer

And once in the fall,

We’d have a fish fry

And charcoal them all.

I always kept hoping

To pull in some big ones,

But my reward turned out

To be just having fun.

That and the fish frys

With family and friends–

Those miniscule fish

Were a means to big ends.

And a lesson I learned

That Marco should know

Is from small, just like atoms,

All big things grow.

Chris Brockman

About the Author ()

Libertarian humanist, rationalist, progressive, romantic. I believe in freedom, people, reason, and that cooperation is the best way for reasonable people to progress in society. I am an advocate of Aristotle's Golden Mean as a path to happiness. I despi

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