Friday poetry: Your Catfish Friend

catfish.jpg[Editor’s note: Shortly before we left California in 1994 and headed east to settle on Timberneck Creek in Tidewater, Virginia, where we remain to this day, I happened across the writer Richard Brautigan. He was from California, evidently, at least that’s where his works take place. He is most famous as the author of the unique work “Trout Fishing in America“, which is difficult to describe or to categorize among the genres of fiction, poetry, memoir, and stream-of-consciousness journals of hallucinations. The cover of the book has a photo of him and his girlfriend hanging in Washington Square in San Francisco and — no, I am not making this up — the first chapter of the book is entitled “The cover for trout fishing in America”. It describes, you guessed it, the cover of the book. How could such a thing attain the status of a cult classic? How, indeed, can we be sure that it is a cult classic? For me, the key evidence came when I was listening to NPR one morning, around that same time when we were living in the Bay area, and I heard a story about a kid who, as soon as he turned 18, changed his name to “Trout fishing in America.” Legally and officially. There was something about him asking his Dad for the money for the legal fees as a gift when he graduated from high school. It is beyond my powers of imagination to picture what went through either his head or his father’s in this transaction, but it really happened. I heard it on NPR. Anyway, my point in bringing all this up is that Brautigan also wrote several books of poetry. The following is from the book “The Pill versus the Spring Hill Mine Disaster.” On the surface it would have to be considered pretty corny, but I have to admit that I’ve always found it quite touching. I’ve even been known to recite it to my wife (don’t tell anyone). It’s my favorite by Brautigan. Number eight in a series.]

brautigan.jpgYour Catfish Friend
Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond. I wish somebody loved me,”
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”


About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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5 Responses to Friday poetry: Your Catfish Friend

  1. baikal says:

    Very beautiful photo!

  2. Pond Liners says:

    We live in Redding and they have some pretty good guided tours via the Sacramento river. My husband and I have yet to try flyfishing but we’d really like to. What do you think is the best way for the newbies to get started? We are willing to drive up to 3 hrs. So, from Redding, CA. where would you recommend?

  3. Sherree says:

    I LOVE this photograph. Would you mind if I used it in a bible study on the life of Peter?

    In my much younger days, i read most of Richard Brautigan’s books. There was one poem, I don’t remember all of it, but I remember the line, “It was a high building in Singapore.”

  4. Erik Weber says:

    if you are going to use my copyright photo of brautigan the least you can do is ask for permission and have a like to my site

    For comments regarding this site please send e-mail to All contents in this website are COPYRIGHT©ERIK WEBER All rights reserved.
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  5. Sherree Funk says:

    Well, I really love the photo. If I get to the point of wanting to include it in a self-published book, I will formally ask for permission, and would happily include a site reference. For now, I just say, “Great photo!”
    Sherree Funk