crematory lenny is predisposed toward jigs and spinner baits

 

He is the sort of man who seems well cast

To be the Grim Reaper’s right-hand man:

Hulking, deliberative in movement and thought alike,

Generally doing the heavy lifting of the direct route to the afterlife

With a grim solemnity not shared by the funeral directors

In whose service he lifts, wrangles, and grunts

(They are, to be fair, not the black-hatted, pale-complected ghouls

Of Dickensian tales or Monty Python sketches;

They are businessman, Rotarians, purveyors of cheerful websites

And nine-year-old giggle-worthy sponsorships of Little League teams)

Performing his duties wordlessly, monotonously

Sparing no time for idle chat or frivolity

(Though on one occasion, when Lew Jackson from over in St. Mary’s

Brought in a woman that he’d known as a girl,

A girl who had found time under the bleachers for everyone but him,

And had parlayed that gift into two stories of gabled comfort

Plus a membership at the Elk County Country Club;

He’d looked at the box and sighed Well, reckon it’s for the best.

There is nothing worse than a harlot turned respectable.)

 

Crematory Lenny is a fisherman,

His normal haunts being some shady bank on the Clarion’s East Branch,

Or one of the sturdier railroad trestles

(The trains not having run through Montmorenci Falls in his memory),

Though if there is a Sunday where his ministrations are not required,

He will drive the winding two lanes up to the Kinzua Dam,

Sometimes eschewing pole and tackle altogether,

Choosing to simply wade into the deep silence of the reservoir.

He is strictly a catch-and-release angler,

Even returning sunnys and chubs better tossed into the weeds

(Good stream management and all that)

Back to the water, freely admitting that, in culinary terms,

In the matter of perch, trout, and bass, he can take it or leave it.

Sometimes, though, he will foul hook one, or come upon a fish

Deeply scarred or tumor-ridden, and he will reach into coat or pants pocket

To remove the garden spade he never travels without,

Proceeding to dig a small hole, just so wide and so deep,

To act as a final piscine resting place.

He would not, indeed could not, explain the whys and wherefores

Of these internments, being a virtual Caliban

When matters stray from the weather and the current deceased,

Nor does he pause to ruminate upon the dearly departed,

Simply casting once more in stealth and silence,

With no sound save the whizzing whisper of the drag, the brief plop

As the lure breaks the surface.

 

 

(This was cobbled together for Izy’s July gauntlet; the final line of the first stanza is lifted from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, which is a damn fine movie. This? I’m sorry it’s not better.)

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14 thoughts on “crematory lenny is predisposed toward jigs and spinner baits

      1. and they’ll be no hari-kari shovel. i’m sure glad dalkowski turned his blues into stories. if i could do it all over, i’d dream of being a bullpen catcher.

  1. damn fine work here, Kortas! Almost makes me want to go fishing (and I hate fishing). I am intrigued by your use of Crematory Lenny, it is very telling of the narrator, how they label people, even after the layers of depth they give to lenny, he’s still essentially, the dude who cremates people. Well done and viva la.

    Ps…haven’t seen the film you pulled the line from, but I will now.
    pss. me thinks I see a typo, line 14 of the first stanza women = woman?

  2. “He…seems well CAST.” Nice little touch there. Doesn’t the Python sketch end with the undertakers all being dead, climbing into the coffin they’re carrying?
    I especially like the last three lines very much. Great writing.
    Fine work,
    Bill

  3. Um, another typo: “garden space” should be garden spade, right?
    Despite typographical errata, I enjoyed the story, especially burying fish too unhealthy for catch-and-release. I wonder if my father did the same, but I’ll never know, unless one of my brothers can tell me.
    I’m pretty sure I must have seen the movie, because I was more than somewhat fond of Paul Newman in his prime, and I did recognize the line about a harlot turning respectable.
    Well, all things being equalled, I enjoyed the story of Crematory Lenny. Glad he had a nice, open-air hobby outside the crematorium.
    K

  4. Phew! That is quite a line! Brilliant. As is your character sketch narrative. You have a remarkable ability to produce really memorable characters, breathe life into them and reveal them with foibles and fallibility, which makes them so human. I hate to quote back your words to you, but I loved the poetry of this section so much:

    Sometimes, though, he will foul hook one, or come upon a fish
    Deeply scarred or tumor-ridden, and he will reach into coat or pants pocket
    To remove the garden space he never travels without,
    Proceeding to dig a small hole, just so wide and so deep,
    To act as a final piscine resting place.

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