I wrote this as a birthday gift for my youngest sister, and now that over a year has passed I’ll share it with everyone else. Written July 19th, 2012.
The Tale of Larry
by John Everett
to my sister Chea on her 26th birthday
Oh! What fun it is to be a trout.
To dance and laugh and swim about.
Just go with the flow,
let the winds blow,
and of cheer you will never run out.
Let me tell you the tale,
not of a whale,
but of a young sturgeon named Larry.
He never did grin
nor wiggle his fin
and frankly his jokes were all stale.
Although he seemed solemn
and straight as a column
his humor played out through his tricks.
A bully of kelp,
a cry out for help,
and everyone came out to maul ’em.
Larry sat near in the mud.
His smile proved this “bully” a dud.
He laughed at his joke,
crashed through the fake bloke,
and we all felt dumb as a spud.
After, in the water there,
covered in dirt and algae and hair,
Larry sat down,
frowned a great frown,
and uttered a verse with great care.
The Sun shines brightly.
The kelp is not hard to see;
yet the fish are fooled.
We didn’t like it! We didn’t, you see.
Least of all who liked it was me.
And this is the reason right here:
For though he was grave,
and I wasn’t brave,
to defend was my fishly decree.
“Let him play at this mean game.
You will admit it‟s rather tame.”
The elders spoke thus
and added on “Plus,
his downfall may lie in his fame.”
Larry, he said, was a magical fish
who would grant whatever his captor did wish.
A snare of his lip
by a hook’s pointy tip
and he’d serve it like a waiter with piping-hot dish.
This fame he had
was not from being bad
but from his old magic wish story.
Humans came from afar,
worms filling their jar,
to catch the obnoxious young lad.
When a man reeled ‘im up to his boat,
Larry would giggle and sputter and gloat.
He would say with a smile,
“Think for a while.
Would you like a new clock or a house or a coat?”
And the man would say “Yay!
Bring them here! Right this way!”
and release the young fish from his hook.
With a dive off the side
he would chuckle—how snide!—
“Thanks for the worm, and I’m not gonna pay!”
Our school knew that he was real tough
but thought this went on long enough.
We warned him four times
that all of his crimes
would end up with him skew’ed on a luff.1
He thought this was funny; he shook all around.
He clapped his fins and made a great sound.
He was about to start a portentous haiku;
when a hook that did gleam
dropped into the stream
with a worm that weighed almost a pound!
Larry’s face showed no joy,
but like a child at a toy,
we knew he was bursting inside.
He took a huge bite,
flew up like a kite,
and then played sweet, modest, and coy.
“I’ll grant you a wish. Whatever you want,”
he explained to the wizened old man.
The man stroked his beard,
then said as he leered,
“I wish for a tasty fried dish.”
He took our advice!
Larry learned to play nice
and gave the old man what he wanted.
Larry was stoic
And I am heroic
but I wouldn’t save him from allspice!
Larry was a handsome young steed
but with a stomach too big for his breed.
After the smoke
he played one final joke:
His meat tasted strongly of greed!
1 luff: the forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail.