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Smart Fish Don’t Bite

(Gary Metras Fishing)

“One of these days,/the guy with the rod won’t be so kind./This is why we hear about the liars,/hypocrites and crooks like Spiro Agnew,/Richard Nixon, Jimmy Swaggart,/Bernie Madoff, Sam Bankman-Fried…”

For John Prados

Only the stupid ones who get caught,

gutted, beheaded, filleted, and eaten

fried or poached or boiled or broiled,

pickled in brine, fed to porpoises raw

at SeaWorld, canned for family pets.


The smart ones just keep swimming.

You’ll never meet an intelligent fish

because they don’t take the bait,

though they never seem to go hungry.


My friend Gary Metras loves to fish;

ties his own flies, pulls on his waders

and heads for his local river several

times a week, rain or shine, year-round.

Strictly catch-and-release. Lucky fish,

But not very bright. He tells me

he often catches the same fish

multiple times. One of these days,

the guy with the rod won’t be so kind.


This is why we hear about the liars,

hypocrites and crooks like Spiro Agnew,

Richard Nixon, Jimmy Swaggart,

Bernie Madoff, Sam Bankman-Fried,

and all those other stupid fish who

can’t resist the bait. Ever wonder

what the smart fish are up to,

the ones you never hear about?.


W. D. Ehrhart has authored or edited a number of collections of poetry and prose, most recently Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems and What We Can and Can’t Afford: Essays on Vietnam, Patriotism, and American Life, both from McFarland & Company, Inc. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Wales at Swansea and taught at The Haverford School in Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2019.

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