A POEM ABOUT BLUEGILLS
There are poems about bluegills. There are poems
about trout. The bluegill doesn’t give a shit.
It’ll eat a bare hook but would rather not hear
about your childhood. The bluegill’s thick headed.
It hunkers down in the weeds, thinking. The trout’s like a young girl
in a wedding gown. Touch it and it dies.
You can pull a bluegill out a pike’s ass, it might
still swim away. I’m not talking about pumpkinseeds,
those little flecks of tinsel. The bluegill’s
the stud of all panfish. People catch pumpkinseeds
thinking they’re bluegills. A pumpkinseed shivers;
it thinks it’s going to convince you it’s cold.
Bluegills are fatalists. A slab in your hand may jerk its head
twice. Once hooked it goes for the mud. By the time
it’s resting on a flotation device it’s willing to die.
It doesn’t grope like a rock bass, swallowing air,
the bluegill’s a realist. It knows it’s just a wedge of painted flesh,
heavy enough to pull you half out of the boat.
If you’ve got a big white bucket of panfish
sitting on top of the ice, the bluegill’s the one still living,
thinking, its head like a stapler, mulling things over.
—from David Dodd Lee’s Downsides of Fish Culture, New Issues Poetry and Prose (1997)