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Poetry by Timothy Oesch
from Oak Ridge, TN

Who Got Away?

"The fish are farther out," I said;
"besides, it's late, past time for bed."
My daughter, fishing next to shore,
just had to drop her bait once more. 

Once more, then twice, then twice again;
three times where ripples once had been.
I watched the moon rise in the sky,
and sensed the nighttime passing by. 

Red whiskers crept out on my face,
and both my shoes seemed stuck in place.
Was there no friendly-mannered snake,
to give us cause to leave the lake? 

The bass, no doubt, were all on strike,
along with sunfish, brim, and pike.
Perhaps a toad might take a look,
at ham fixed to my daughter's hook. 

Now some time back, when it was light,
she'd got what I would call a bite.
She'd even caught a tiny perch,
that hardly made her bobber lurch. 

But now, it seemed, with darkness deepin',
that all the fish had gone to sleepin'.
So I just plopped down in a chair,
bemoaning every minute there.

"It's snagged," I heard my daughter speak,
which struck my mind as rather bleak.
I sighed, stood up, and shook my head,
then walked on feet that felt like lead. 

"Here honey, let me have the pole,"
I spoke with words meant to console.
'Cause after all, her perseverance,
was worthy of her dad's forbearance. 

I gave a tug, then skewed my brow;
things did not seem quite right, somehow.
A giant log should have no head,
like Moby Dick raised from the dead. 

Two gleaming eyes stared hard and vicious,
like I was something deemed delicious.
A mouth gaped wide, and if 'twer bigger,
'twould swallow me like some wee chigger. 

A thought then rose that made me pale,
Pinocchio inside the whale.
A thrash, a splash, the line was broken;
my daughter laughed, we both were soakin'. 

Before he plunged and swam off free,
the great fish paused and looked at me.
His green eyes glared and seemed to say,
"Tis you, my friend, who got away."


Content within his bed he lay,
at peace within his dreams.
He did not see the gruesome roach,
enacting plotful schemes.

The post behind his bed it climbed,
and crept across the sheet;
which did not did stretch quite far enough,
to cover both his feet.

As feelers flossed his ticklish skin,
while squirming through his toes;
I lay upon a nearby cot,
and nonchalantly dozed.

Experienced in roachful ways,
he still abhorred the varments.
And when he woke that dreadful night,
he nearly burst his garments.

A chilling scream pierced both my ears,
and stunned my lucid senses.
I thought of dashing through the door,
and jumping several fences.

Upon my knees I crouched in fright,
and gazed across the room.
A sheet was floating near the roof,
'ore howling shrieks of doom.

Spasmodic kicking churned the air,
and pelted mattress springs.
My cousin tried his very best,
to use his arms as wings.

Then like the spring upon a trap,
he sprang to both his heels.
And flipping on the ceiling light
he ceased his rampant squeals.

With starkly widened eyes I stared,
but saw no pools of blood.
You'd thought the way he carried on,
there might have been a flood.

My heart was leaping up and down,
entrapped within my chest;
which put in doctor's words would be,
a rackattack arrest.

Somehow surviving such a scare,
I wondered what took place;
to bring out prehistoric sounds,
from one of my own race.

"A roach," he said, and then I knew,
what started all the fussin'.
T'was nothin' but a little bug;
I'm glad he picked my cousin!


While I was calmly folding clothes,
a scream from in the bathroom rose.
"Honey! Honey!" came the cry;
it was my wife! Oh my! Oh my!

In three long bounds I reached the door,
and slid across the smooth, tile floor.
Then quaintly smashed against the wall,
but managed somehow not to fall.

The tub was like an old, white boat,
quite large enough for one to float.
Against the rear my wife was huddled,
she seemed to be somewhat befuddled.

"What is it?" I inquired at last;
my wife stared straight ahead aghast.
She raised a finger toward the drain,
which proved sufficient to explain.

The drain had several holes, you know,
which served to stop an overflow.
From one such hole protruded feelers,
the kind that turn wives into squealers.

The kind, I mean, so long and hairy,
to glimpse them makes a man grow wary.
And later wonder what great beast,
was hooked to where those feelers ceased.

Such feelers moved before our eyes,
vermiculose with insect guise.
They searched about, for who knows what?
I hoped it wasn't me they sought!

"Don't worry dear," I bravely spoke,
"those roaches aren't all such bad folk.
Besides, he's surely much too fat,
to squeeze through any hole like that."

But as I spoke, I had to wonder,
was this a geometric blunder?
Are roaches really more elastic,
with pliability like plastic?

Within my mind there formed a scene,
like on a third-dimension screen.
Where one gigantic, gruesome roach,
into the bathtub did encroach.

A daring dive, then hectic splashing;
wide eyes, a gasp, and frantic thrashing.
I saw it all, in contemplation,
but gave no outer indication.

I calmly aimed the shower spout,
then turned two handles round-about.
To my relief, the bug retreated,
and that ordeal was thus completed.


My Uncle Richard talked to cows,
and sometimes spoke to pigs and plows;
though not one beast returned a word,
he kept conversing with his herd.

We visited from time to time;
to us, the old farm seemed sublime;
my brothers, sister, mom and dad,
all found that farm trips made us glad.

The cow tank was our swimming pool,
the shade from oak leaves kept us cool;
we held the kittens, captured frogs,
and practiced walking over logs.

Late afternoon brought milking chores,
as cows marched through the barn's back doors;
I swatted flies and scooped up poo,
important things that I could do.

One day my sister, only three,
decided she would follow me;
I did not see her sneak inside,
and search for someplace she could hide.

A niche behind a feeding bin,
was where she hid, since she was thin;
Ole' Bess, a cow, strolled into place,
and started munching grain with grace.


Then Richard gave ole' Bess a pat,
and said, "you know, you're getting fat."
Ole' Bess then flinched, and raised her head,
"Hey! I'm not fat," my sister said.

I knew my sister's voice, and stared;
"Oh sheesh," my uncle then declared;
he thought his cow had answered back,
his knees grew weak, his jaw grew slack.

"Oh what?" my sister then inquired,
my uncle seemed to come unwired;
"You didn't say . . . 'cause it's not fit . . .
that poo poo word which rhymes with grit?"

I must admit, though it's disdainful,
I found the whole thing entertainful;
my uncle sat flat on the floor,
while I just watched and hoped for more.

"Can I please help with swatting flies?
I'm getting bored, just making pies . . ."
And just then Bess pooped out a paddy;
the timing seemed somehow uncaddy.

"Ker-Splat!" the poo; "Ka-Whack!" my uncle,
he fainted with a sort of crunkle.
Since that, though he still spoke with plows,
he used sign-language with his cows.


My uncle Richard liked to fish---
sit on a muddy bank and wish;
he'd prop a pole up on a twig,
with hopes of landing something big.

They drained a lake somewhere near town,
and when the water sank way down---
my uncle showed up with a net,
for all the whoppers he could get.

Some barrels in his pickup truck,
was where his lively load got stuck;
then from the lake he did abscond,
and brought those whoppers to his pond.

As fish the size of baby whales,
plopped in the pond and swished their tails---
my uncle's eyes let up with glee,
his pond was now an inland sea.

Some months thereafter, one bright night;
a full moon beaming clean and white---
my uncle took a fishing fancy;
his luck of late had been quite chancy.

So out across the field he trod,
with fishing box, bait, net, and rod;
then settled in his cherished spot,
and let his mind drift off in thought.


The line grew taut, a stout twig snapped,
then to the bank the rod was slapped---
my Uncle Richard sprang to action,
assuming looks of satisfaction.

The rod and reel he held with talent,
engaging in a battle gallant;
he stood fast in the mud with poise,
with weapons which his wife called toys.

Near shore appeared the vanquished foe,
a catfish three feet long, or so;
the trophy seemed as good as mounted,
but some rewards too soon get counted.

The fishing line broke right in two,
poor Richard turned a livid hue;
his jaw sagged down, his eyebrows skewed,
his disposition came unglued.

"Yow wee!" he yelled, leaped in the air,
and landed on that catfish square;
a poisoned spike pierced through his hand,
but still he dragged the fish to land.

He took the victor's march back home,
in need of Band-Aids and a comb;
one question issued from his mate:
"What did that catfish use for bait?"


When in the bathroom, sopping wet,
you're all done with your shower.
Then once again, with towel in hand,
you bring on drying power.

First on your head, then neck, then arms,
and on down to your feet.
You rub, and scrub, and dab, and pat,
until the job's complete.

And in response, the hair upon your legs
stands up like cotton.
You've even wiped inside your ears,
it seems nowhere's forgotten.


Well then, at this, you feel as if,
you've licked a mighty chore.
But woe betide, you'll soon change mind,
when opening the door.

For then into the room will creep,
an unexpected breeze,
And every spot you chanced to miss,
will quickly start to freeze.

But don't despair, for then you'll hop,
and skip, at quite a rate.
And all the water left behind,
will soon evaporate.


My father used to hunt and trap,
when he was just a lad.
He always wore a bright orange cap,
the only one he had.

The wiles and ways of coon and fox,
he knew them all by heart.
His hunting books filled one small box,
no wonder he was smart.

But Jasper Brown told dad a thing,
he'd never heard nor read.
A tale of skunks, and sticks, and string,
and this is what he said:

"If you would like to catch a skunk,
and keep him for a pet.
A furry friend beside your bunk,
defumed by our town's vet.

Then this is how you capture him,
without the usual smell.
You loop a string around a limb,
then snag him by the tail.

Before he has a chance to wink,
you simply lift him up.
Held by his tail, there'll be no stink,
he's harmless as a pup."

The night was rather brisky,
a white moon shining fine.
Dad stealthily approached a skunk,
with ten pound fishing line.

The loop was placed quite deftly,
a skunk raised from the ground.
Then two dark eyes espied my dad,
and stared without a sound.

Experience and knowledge,
sometimes run hand in hand.
That night as Dad admired his skunk,
he learned more than he planned.

He learned that skunks have talent,
though luckily can't fly.
'Cause from the air it hit him square,
not one drop passed him by.

Poor Jasper was the first to learn,
of dad's amazing finding.
But after seven mustard baths,
the odor still was binding.

Back home Dad told his family,
this quite intriguing yarn.
But after that, his dear orange cap,
was kept out in the barn.


My mower croaked with each new pull,
and sounded like some wounded Bull;
the fifth time I yanked extra hard,
determined that I'd mow the yard.

On number five the engine started,
but from the frame, the rope departed;
it frayed and busted clean in two,
and left me wond'ring what to do.

Well, carefully I cut the grass,
quite glad the tank was full of gas;
but all that time my mind was vexed,
by how to start that mower next.

A surgery and reconstruction,
still failed to make the starter function;
then I remembered---as a kid,
I wrapped a rope around the lid.

I cut the top and propped it high,
which made it look like it might fly;
with sides composed of silver screws---
it did not look quite safe to use.

So silver duct tape then was wound,
from screw to screw around and 'round;
this silver wall looked so much safer,
I sat, and stared, and ate a wafer.

Well, two weeks later, as expected,
the need for mowing was detected;
my wife was watchful of the lawn,
she'd check it at the crack of dawn.

I wound some scrap rope 'round the top,
which served quite nicely as a prop;
the motor started up just great,
I started mowing right at eight.

The first pass up along the street,
I spied the dog that nipped my feet;
Belshizer was that monster's name,
and low-down meanness was his game.

His owner, Miss Kuwella Schnog,
would never give her dog a flog;
she simply let him eat my shoes,
so seeing him was not good news.

"No Belsh!" I heard Miss Schnog exclaim,
but still he charged me, just the same;
yet then I heard the strangest sound,
the wall of duct tape came unwound.

A buzz, a twirl, then off it shot,
ole' Belsh got taped up in a knot!
He yelped 'till Miss Schnog got him free,
and since then, he's been nice to me.


Sylvester sneaked behind the couch,
and settled in an impish crouch;
to catch my neighbor unaware,
and nip an ankle, soft and bare.

Now Agnus had a fear of cats,
she counted them the same as rats;
but this quaint fact I did not know,
until Sylvester made it so.

A nip is nothing new to me,
at lunch time I get two or three;
and if lunch comes a little late,
I sometimes get from six to eight.

But nips were nothing Agnus knew,
it's something flowers never do;
and even pictures on her walls,
were void of teeth, or claws, or paws.

I thought my cat was rather shy,
he'd run and hide when folks said "hi";
so why should I have spent the labor,
to mention him to my new neighbor?

At any rate, as she came in,
Sylvester waited in the den;
and did not make a peep or sound,
to let us know he was around.

"So glad you came," I just had said,
when Agnus froze my mind with dread;
her eyelids drew so gaping wide,
the lashes wound around inside.

Her face seemed carved from whitish marble,
and from her throat there rose a warble;
but this brief pose was soon enhanced,
as prancing feet both kicked and danced.

About this time I made a quester,
and near her feet espied Sylvester;
he stood aghast with whiskers quaking,
his bristled fur about him shaking.

A piercing scream was then too much,
Sylvester could not cope with such;
he circled twice around the room,
which made my neighbor's hairdo bloom.

Upon the couch she sprang with fright,
my cat still fixed within her sight;
then zoomed into the air with fear,
and clasped onto my chandelier.

Somehow we managed to survive,
each one escaping still alive;
and though my cat still sneaks some nips,
when Agnus comes, he shuts his lips.


My sister was both cute and nice,
but not afraid of bugs;
so sometimes comments from our guests,
elicited some shrugs.

We entertained a lady friend,
of priggish reputation;
when Debbie went outside to play,
she made this declaration:

"The sweet, dear darling has an air,
so innocent and charming;
I'll bet she chases butterflies,
with no intent of harming."

My brother, Rob, then looked at me,
as if to say: 'She's kidding!';
I knew he wanted me to speak,
so I took on his bidding.

"The fact is, ma'am," I pointed out,
"it's June bugs she gets most;
and she's quite good at catching them,
though you'll not hear her boast."

A flabbergasted look of awe,
disgust beyond description---
appeared upon the old maid's face,
and filled the room with friction.

"You bad, bad boy," she firmly spoke,
denouncing my remark.
"I've not heard fibs as big as that,
since Fred came by to spark."

I later learned "spark" means to court,
and not "prevarication";
but at the time I felt accused,
of flagrant degradation.

Just then my sister walked back in,
holding a copperhead;
"Look at my worm," she glibly spoke---
we nearly all dropped dead.

Rob leaped and grabbed the snake away---
"Now no more worms!" he scolded;
my sister trekked off to her room,
her plans somewhat remolded.

Our guest sat dumbstruck in her chair,
in some strange sort of trance;
her visage had a far off look---
a look of lost romance.

"Are you okay?" I finally asked,
though speaking seemed uncouth;
"You know," she said with starry eyes,
"I'll bet Fred told the truth."


Down through the ground I tapped with care,
the tank was hiding there, somewhere.
And I was out to find the clog,
accompanied by Zeke, my dog.

Inside the toilets would not flush,
all they would do is gush, with mush.
And that sure made an awful mess,
far worse than words serve to express.

So everyone had wished me luck,
to find a drain all stuck, with muck.
And sent me out with Zeke, our hound,
who sniffed for odors in the ground.

Then Zeke let out one fearsome howl,
there set upon his jowl, a scowl.
He shook his head above the tank,
to let me know how bad it stank.

I had no choice, so down I dug,
Zeke watched for any bug, or slug.
But when I found a concrete lid,
Zeke ran into the house, and hid.

I scraped the concrete clean and white,
it would have shown quite bright, at night.
Then loosened earth about its edges,
and tossed some dirt on nearby hedges.

My task seemed halfway done, or more,
thus far it seemed a simple chore.
I stepped atop the lid to rest,
but soon became a septic guest.

A crack sprang forth, trapped fumes erupted,
into the tank I was abducted.
Large chunks of concrete sank from view,
and steam rose with a greenish hue.

My nose soon sensed the dreadful plight,
my feet both tread with all their might.
I then determined, little wonder,
to sink not one inch further under.

My neighbor still insists I flew,
but how could such a thing be true?
Yet from the tank I did eject,
by means no human can detect.

Beside the vat I sighed relief,
but kept my inhalations brief.
Soon afterwards I found the hose,
and rinsed myself from nose to toes.

The toilets all work well since that,
and all I did was stir the vat.
My sole request, at our next meal,
was for a new lid, made of steel.


The local army surplus store,
had hats, and knives, and shoes galore;
but only one aquatic craft---
a blue and yellow one-man raft.

It packed up in a rubber cube,
and blew up like an inner tube---
without a doubt the perfect pomp,
to take on outings to the swamp.

My cousin Ned, and best friend Frank,
both met me on the swamp's dank bank;
then lungs and lips served as the pump,
to get the raft all full and plump.

Still dizzy from the craft's inflation,
I hastened to attempt flotation;
then toppling back into position,
I drifted out in exhibition.

The bottom of the raft was thin,
the sides were where the air went in;
dark, cool water lapped my thighs,
but warm cheers sounded from the guys.

"Hey, here's the paddle!" hollered Ned---
it landed somewhere near my head;
I clasped it with an outstretched hand,
with thoughts of heading back toward land.

"Hey, something moved!" Frank then declared
which was enough to get me scared;
I turned my eyes in all directions,
the swamp was full of weird reflections.

Just then I hit a tall, thin stump,
which stuck me smartly in the rump;
this gave me the unnerving hunch,
an alligator wanted lunch.

"Gator, ah!" I yelled out loud;
"Those things eat folks!" Frank then avowed---
such words just served to feed my fright,
I stood upon the raft upright.

"Knock him in the nose!" Ned squealed;
as I reared back, the small craft reeled---
I know it wasn't overloaded,
but that old inner tube exploded!

Beside the stump, I soundly splashed,
across my side its blunt tip gashed;
I squalled just like a tackled hog---
then realized I bumped a log.

I grabbed that stump and shook and roared,
at which both Frank and Ned were floored---
they thought I strangled one huge gator;
of course I told them different---later.


The T-bone steak sat on the grill,
for which my dad had paid the bill;
Aunt Ellen, Gramp, and Uncle Gene,
dubbed it the largest they had seen.

As fragrant odors filled the air,
Dad sat nearby in his lawn chair;
And Pogo, our dear beagle hound,
slid stomach first along the ground.

Compared to dog food, bones, or mice,
that thick, rare, steak smelled mighty nice;
So when Dad closed his eyes to rest,
sly Pogo launched himself with zest.

As canine jaws snatched up our meal,
Aunt Ellen voiced a frantic squeal;
She stood inside our back screen door,
and hopped distraughtly on the floor.

Dad chased our dog around the yard,
and catching him appeared quite hard;
But Pogo's paw tripped on the steak,
and most of it fell in his wake.

Once soap and water washed it clean,
the steak again was dubbed supreme;
And as we chewed, my gramp surmised---
why it was so well tenderized.


My brother, Rob, who lifted weights,
and had no trouble getting dates;
seemed odd---for one so manly lookin,
when he took up the art of cookin.

But I must say, he baked so well,
our stomachs soon began to swell;
and what at first seemed rather weird,
became a talent we revered.

He made us pancakes, muffins, cakes,
and super, gooey, ice-cream shakes;
yet cherry cobbler was the best,
we liked it more than all the rest.

One cobbly night, Rob got inspired,
and we all told him we weren't tired;
but being bored with pink and red,
he made the cobbler green instead.

Our cute young sis, who seldom teased,
said, "ew . . . some great big giant sneezed";
then Matt, who teased a whole, whole lot,
said, "yea, that stuff looks just like snot".

Now no one took a single bite,
until my dad switched off the light;
but then I soon heard Matt remark,
"this stuff's delicious, in the dark".


A golden path beneath the sun,
beset the sea as day was done;
and seemed to draw me with its charms,
encircling me with mystic arms.

Alone I seldom swim at night,
for fear some fish may take a bite;
but this time I could not resist,
the air contained enchanted mist.

So off along the path I waded,
the shoreline soon behind me faded;
the water rose, I had to swim,
and all the while the sun grew dim.

As darkness swept the path away,
and left behind a starlit splay;
I suddenly regained my bearings,
surrounded by a school of herrings.

The fish swam off, the waves grew still,
my unshod toes began to chill;
I felt like some bionic bait,
and hoped the sharks weren't out that late.

Then from the sea rose such a sight,
adorned in garbs of sheer delight;
that all the blood drained from my head,
I thought in seconds I'd be dead.

Beneath the surface I came to,
her lips were stuck to mine like glue;
and soon my toes, which had been cold,
warmed up until they softly glowed.

Her breath endued some magic powers,
I did not have to breathe for hours;
released from her inflaming smack,
I floated several paces back.

Old folklore, then, seemed all awry,
she had two legs, like you or I;
two feet, two hands, two arms, two thighs,
and other two's which caught my eyes.

But then two oceans 'neath the sea,
inhaled the very heart of me;
enchanting verdant vessels green,
artesian wells of love serene.

Around these swarmed black pearl's dark gloss,
upon her head a thickened floss;
and in the depths sweet roses grew,
as she returned a smile or two.

The Princess Mermaid joined my hand,
and soon we walked upon the land;
a parson at the church had tarried,
and ere the moon rose full, we married.


'Twas during Children's Church that Dad
performed and made the youngins glad;
as they observed the sanctuary,
transform into an aviary.

My brother's pets, crammed in a cage,
were stowed in secret up on stage;
a trick devised to serve the Lord,
by keeping kids from getting bored.

An empty box shown to the kids,
had three birds packed beneath the lids;
with sewing thread tied to their feet,
to limit them in their retreat.

Dad flipped the lid, and out they flew,
two pigeons and a cockatoo;
like cave bats flapping from their lair,
three rockets zooming through the air.

The three thin threads broke right in two,
the cockatoo chirped back, "adieu";
and all the children cheered with glee,
as one yelled, "look! A chickadee!"

Well, Dad just stood and scratched his head,
he should have used some thicker thread;
and when those fowl lit on a rafter,
he pondered on the service after.

The children's service finished fine,
they thought Dad's lesson was divine;
and one child asked him if his box,
could make a jaguar or a fox.

Soon afterwards, adults appeared,
not knowing why the children sneered;
and with them entered Agnus Frock,
the prudest maid among the flock.

The birds sat still, without a peep,
and Dad thought they were all asleep;
he hoped that they would not make noise,
and somehow kept his usual poise.

The children now and then would peer,
at shapes above the chandelier;
but all the parents stared ahead,
transfixed by all that my dad said.

"The wrath of heaven cometh down,"
he spoke while looking all around;
then one huge blob of gray-white poo,
came plopping down on you-know-who.

Ole Agnus screamed, the birds took flight,
the church folks laughed with all their might;
then Dad spoke as he thought he must,
and said, "rain falleth on the just".


Beneath the oak limbs, moon and stars,
mosquitoes, bats, and planet Mars---
My small, green tent stood placidly;
but I was scared as I could be.

It was my first night out alone,
without a TV or a phone.
And Zeb, my dog, was at the vet;
he caught a cold from getting wet.

One furry cloud as black as tar,
took on the form of beasts bizarre---
Then morphasized and changed to Flipper,
so it seemed safe to close the zipper.

Chilled cocoa from my dad's canteen,
washed down a pre-sliced nectarine.
While one great hunk of cheddar cheese,
supplied the bulk of calories

Leftover cheese seemed no big deal,
although its wrapper had no seal.
I set it by the back tent wall,
not knowing what would soon befall.

The crickets sang their lullaby,
as soft winds roamed the nighttime sky.
Though wary of the darkness deep;
by accident, I fell asleep.


My dreams were rather disconcerting,
with geysers and volcanoes spurting---
And grizzly bears with long white fangs,
which fought with wild orangutans.

One bear, it seemed, came up so near,
I felt him breathing in my ear.
His thick fur brushed against my cheek,
and then I heard the monster squeak!

At once my eyes both opened wide,
for I was not alone outside.
There on my chest stood one huge mouse,
much larger than those in our house.

My body shook from head to toes,
the mouse dashed off across my nose.
Deep down into the bag I huddled,
but such escape was soon befuddled.

I don't know whether they were brothers,
but there were no less than three others.
The critters squirmed between my feet;
my only choice was to retreat.

I bravely charged the closed up tent;
at which point one large hole was rent.
I think when all is done and said,
I'd rather camp in my own bed.


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